Sexuality, the physical and the manipulated explored in photography.
Loreal Prystaj is an American born, London based artist and photographer, currently an artist in residence at the Kovet.Art gallery, and currently part of the digital Delineating Dreams exhibition. Her work takes on board the ‘female gaze’ and the exhibitionism of the selfie, where the lines between viewer, vanity and voyeur blur, and plays with current firebrand issues like gender, sexuality and identity. This takes the form of self-portraits – though not your everyday self-portraits. These are, rather, explorations of the body as a part of the landscape, the natural transformed into created objects.
2014 collection Between the Cracks combines the body and light, and the way that the two can create new textures – new objects, perhaps – when sunlight is fed through man-made objects. It explores ideas of isolation – how very apt for now, you might think! As she says:
“This series narrates the interaction between nature, environment, and self. Solely confined to a vacant cabin in the Catskill Mountains and craving interaction, I discovered personality in the inanimate. Adapting to converse with my surroundings, I witnessed myself metamorphosing into a part of the empty rooms, rusted doorknobs, and dried up flower pots.”
Her 2016 collection Reflecting On Nature combines the natural and artificial with a sense of hyper-realism – there’s a certain Hipgnosis vibe about this work, with normality subverted and sexuality frozen, the flesh made landscape and the landscape flesh using mirrors to reflect the natural back as something artificial. It’s pretty impressive. To quote Prystaj:
“There is no such thing as compromising with nature; we simply abide by how it lives and exist as a part of it. Nature is very relevant to each individual’s well-being, but more so than it is part of us, we are part of it. Often times, mirrors are used to emphasize the minute details, but rarely used to look at the big picture. What if nature looked at itself? What would it see? What would we be? Would our identity stand out or would we be a small detail? Would nature change us? Would we be a beauty mark or a blemish? Accentuated? Concealed?”
More recently, she has created a series of black and white pieces that further objectify the body in a playful and self-conscious way, with some visual puns that suggest that there is a sly sense of humour at work. There’s a similarity here to some classic erotica, though in this case, as both model and photographer are one and the same, there is less room for criticism that the images are reducing the female body to an inanimate object – which of course, they are, but doing so in a knowing wink.
For more information and more impressive, sometimes unsettling work, visit her website: https://www.lorealprystaj.com/
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