“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. (…) 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.”
Three different bodies of work in 1. Reflected image of mirror staged for portrait.
Blown up found images/ selfies into abstract field of colour they become a flurry of lights where we can no longer see the subject but feel almost like on a stage with lights pointing at us. Or in a nightclub where the lights do not allow us to see those around us. Overpowered by reflections of light. I feel this sense of theatrical light where we see nothing in reality shows how our online personas are staged characters we cannot see the real person blinded by the stage lights.
Part two of the exhibition we see 9 women reflected in two mirrors posing for a portrait as they would like to be seen.
“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.””
In the third part of the exhibit O’leary has created opposing pairs , of abstract objects a cup sliced at the sides so it is useless. There is irony in her images. Polar Bears printed on the side of a truck in snow – perhaps referring to the ruin of their natural habitat by development. A tall fat boy stands beside a small skinny boy I feel she is bringing our attention to our public personas and obsession with how we look. We look at both boys and what do we feel they are real. it is not an advertisement for something. The pretty girls face on a cake. Perhaps a birthday cake with a photo of the birthday girl. The irony here is that in order to look pretty and be skinny we usually avoid cake. The leftover cake placed in the fridge abandoned there we view it through the rails almost like bars in a prison. There is a message in O’Leary’s work we need to be aware.
The imprint on a food of a different shoe perhaps pointing to an abundance of goods that are not making us prettier as we may desire but slowly affecting us in a negative way.
To me we know we are being seduced by the constant bombardment of advertisement and images. It is no longer a slow dripping tap but quick and constant. So quick and constant that we do not even take the time to absorb the images but the constant repetitiveness gets to us. we cannot avoid it. even if we switch off our phones, our laptops, our televisions the images are on the street on billboards, in every shop window. On social media we are creating images, copying what we see in advertising and projecting our images of a perfect life. It is not socially acceptable to post unhappy things on your social media perhaps a quick politic view. We post pictures of nights out with friends, beautiful children in their new clothes. A handbag, a latte experience. Imagine future generations looking at our social media. They could think what a pristine life, a perfect mowed lawn full of picnics and beautiful faces. They could struggle to reconcile it with real life. we are projecting unrealistic unattainable perfection in our digital life. The problem is we can believe it ourselves only to be disappointed when life turns out not to be so perfect. To have pimples and overflowing baskets of laundry, crying children and annoyed hubby. There is a danger of not meeting our own perfect expectations. We fall into the traps of consumerism to fill these voids. We know we are being tricked we know what advertising does but we go there. If in todays world cigarette advertisement is being controlled as we know the power it can have to encourage people to take up smoking. Do we need to control all advertising but what if we did our whole world is based on consumerism, our jobs created by it. What if the whole system collapsed what would we do. There is a romantic side that has come out of all this consumerism we see it in the way goods are advertised from the farm, or the small family business of over 200 years often just good marketing but why this nostalgia. Do we long to return to the days of growing your own vegetables, fishing off the beach to survive. A simpler way of life. A life without all the labour saving machinery we work solid day and night to pay for? If we were to sit down and think about it all which life would we choose and why.