It’s no secret that much of Laurie Simmons’ work concerns the role of women in society.
But for the first time, the New York based artist went for the real deal, photographing real women instead of dolls and dummies. For her latest series How We See, she portrayed six very real fashion models, including two famous transgender models, Peche Di and Edie North, dressed by Rachel Antonoff and groomed by makeup artists Landy Dean and James Kaliardo.
If all this makes you wonder whether Simmons’ has lost her provocative touch, don’t you worry. How We See it’s not a fashion exhibition, but the artist’s latest venture in the world of self-perception and imagination, a theme rather recurrent in her work.
This series of six large scale images, drawing upon the old fashioned High School type of portraits, provide a commentary of the distinction between reality and illusion, ever-blurred since the advent of the digital era.
But the ultimate message of these portraits of young beautiful women, eye-lids closed and painted with an emulation of opened eyes complete of fake lashes, is aimed to generate a reflection in regards to self-worth and identity.
While researching Japanese cosplay for Kigrumi (2014), Simmons’ found herself immersed in endless YouTube makeup tutorials, blog sites devoted to ‘real-life Barbies’ and ‘doll girls’ perpetuating unrealistic standards of beauty.
In an era where producing our online avatars by editing, cropping and filtering gives us the chance to create our masterpiece self-generated identity, Simmons reflected on the consequences of this growing desire for perfection. When cropping and enhancing won’t be enough anymore, what will be the next frontier to obtain that otherwise unobtainable standard we feel the need to embrace
How We See will be at the Jewish Museum (1109 Fifth Ave, New York NY) from the 13th of March to the 9th of August.
For additional information visit the artist’s website.