Self to Product

I’ve been following Hazel Dooney for a long time.  She recently stopped blogging regularly so now her website, email updates and Facebook are how I keep track of her work.  I received an update this morning and wanted to share a paragraph she wrote,

“I never expected to discover within myself an enthusiasm for portraiture. Over the past decade, I’ve been asked many times to undertake portrait commissions and I have always refused. Then, about a year or so ago, I recognised a compelling connection between a long-standing theme of my work – the way advertising and entertainment media influence our identity – and the traditional role of the ‘public’ portrait. I became intrigued by the notion that I could create a reductive but still identifiable ‘idealisation’ of a subject which, like fashion advertising or celebrity portrait photography, might transform their real-world ‘self’ into an emotive ‘product’. As large-scale, gleaming, sexy, and super-real as a good fashion or lifestyle advertisement should be, these portraits might also be unsettling and revelatory, even to their sitters.”

*The photo above is a screen shot I took from the artist’s website www.hazeldooney.com.

I find the “self” to “product” aspect of her work and her statement very interesting.  Those ideas of course bring me straight to gender representation and roles.  What looks “male” or whats “looks” female?  Of course that question can be seen as purely an inquiry about the actual naked human form but the influence of cultural products, advertising, and so forth can have an even greater impact.

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