Eva O'leary,

Contact: On request

Website: www.evaoleary.com

Instagram: @evaoleary

Spitting image

"No matter how much I object politically or artistically to the rhetoric of commercial photography, I am seduced by its tricks—the ways it sweetens the body and the landscape, masks the unpleasant, and transforms beauty and desire into myth. From a young age, this kind of imagery taught me to suppress my desires, values, personality, and flaws. It’s an experience common to many women; we are shaped by ideologies of domination and control within contemporary commerce, projecting fantasies onto our bodies that are not our own. 

Over the last year, I have been working with a group of girls between the ages of eleven and fourteen in my hometown in rural Pennsylvania, photographing and filming their reactions to their own image through a two-way mirror. These girls-who belong to a generation fluent in selfies, tags on social media, and using iPhone cameras as mirrors-understand how to construct identity through images. Nonetheless, the gulf between their appearance and the commercial imagery with which they are inundated remains vast. The portraits, made with a large-format 8x10 camera, capture the intricacies of self-presentation and highlight a young woman's discomfort when she sees an image in the mirror that fails to live up to her desires. 

Everywhere around me I see surfaces—skin, billboards, cake icing photographic prints—that project fantasies. My work aims to address the psychological space in which men and, in particular, women must balance the ever-present reality of imagery that is insistently, but seductively, unreal" - Eva O'leary