Chloe Newman is a London-based photographer whose bright, surrealist imagery juxtaposes body parts with objects in the creation of uncanny visual puzzles that are rich with analyses of popular culture and consumerism. Two of her series are featured here: Visual Conflicts and Black Tropicana (in collaboration with Rebecca Scheinberg). The former — characterized by hands and feet interacting strangely with edible materials — triggers curiosity and also challenges the way we see food, giving it a commodified (and sometimes an oddly fetishized) object-status. Black Tropicana, which was “inspired by pop culture, 70s glam disco, and artificial worlds” (Source), similarly turns glamorized objects — acrylic nails, jewelry, and cocktails — into attractive but superficial representations of themselves.
With simple compositions and eye-grabbing colors, Newman’s works initially resemble the fashion advertisements you’d find in a magazine. But such staged product marketing is the very thing she seeks to critique in her work, and she does so by confronting us with their constructed absurdity; whether it is acid-bright nails clinging a fistful of jewels, syrup being poured over a bouquet of white roses, or a lobster about to be devoured over gold satin sheets, her unusual images unveil such magazine ads as contrived, hyper-real depictions of objects that have been attributed a certain “status” in our consumer culture. Critical analysis aside, the power of Newman’s photography lies in the fact that it simply intrigues us — we are attracted to the image, but also unsettled by it, unsure of what it is supposed to represent. An encounter with her work becomes an enjoyable mental interrogation.