four female photographers explore sex and gender in new group show
Juno Calypso, Natasha Caruana, Pixy Yijun Liao, and Melanie Willhide present unique work in New York that probes power dynamics in relationships and how women construct themselves.
Last month, we met photographer Juno Calypso's alter ego, Joyce. Joyce lives in a world filled with pale pastel bathtubs, green body paint, Pepto pink facemasks, and many, many mirrors. Calypso's protagonist is at the center of a cinematic, surrealist series that explores the laborious efforts that form female beauty regimens. Behind bathroom doors, Joyce comes alive, and in doing so, questions the constructed notion of femininity.
Calypso is one of four women whose work will be exhibited at a new group show, The Real Thing. Opening tonight at New York's Flowers Gallery, the show brings together female photographers who experiment with sexuality, gender roles, and identity formation in their compelling work.
The Real Thing will feature two contributions from Calypso's Joyce series -- which was recently awarded the British Journal of Photography's International Photography Award -- as well as works by Natasha Caruana, Pixy Yijun Liao, and Melanie Willhide. Caruana's series, Married Men, documents her online exchanges with men on extramarital matchmaking sites.
"Posing as a potential partner," the gallery's website explains, "Caruana secretly filmed their encounters, focusing on the peripheral details of the setting, as though presenting clues for the viewer to decipher." The artist questions her subject's motives and presents a larger, complex meditation on loneliness in the digital age.
Pixy Liao's Experimental Relationship series similarly considers relationship power dynamics by exploring gender. But Liao's series involves her current partner Moro, who is five years younger, not pixelated potential suitors. "Photographed within domestic or pastoral scenes, the couple are often locked in embrace with the male body unclothed. The artist uses her body to grip, shield, or brace the male figure, accentuating the shifting balance of their relationship," according to the gallery. Like Caruna, the exhibition's fourth featured artist, Melanie Willhide, creates images that probe memory, loss, and alienation -- but by using documents to create artificial artifacts of romance.
'The Real Thing' is on view from January 28 to February 27. More information here.
Text Emily Manning
Juno Calypso, Seaweed Wrap, 2015