Intimate Photographs Of Young Women Capture Private Beauty Routines

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In Rituals, the photographer Noorann Matties catalogs the strange, mystical moments between woman and mirror, capturing young ladies in private moments of self-preparation and styling. As her subjects stand barefaced before public and private mirrors, work in eyebrow pencil, lipgloss, and mascara, seemingly memorized by and in poignant discovery of their own features.

Shooting many of the women from behind so as to capture the self in dialogue her reflection, Matties seemingly preserves the innocence of the experience, allowing the girls to engage with themselves undisturbed and unaware of onlookers. These sacred rituals, haloed in early morning sunlight and fluorescent lightbulbs, celebrate the quiet moments before the start of the day. In the instant before her subjects present their faces to the public, Matties stops the clock, preserving the beautiful self-absorption afforded by secrecy.

The inconsistent, accidental lighting serves only to heighten the sensuality of individual skin and hair tones, textures, and shapes; a towel hangs, left over from the night before, and reflections distort serendipitously in still-wet shower doors, affording the photographs deeper psychological meanings.

The repetition of these rituals is expressed through careful self-examination and knowledge; these women have seemingly memorized the curves of their brows, the textures of their skin, the movement of hair moved effortlessly and invisibly into a bun. The poignancy of these photographs, then, lies in part in the efficiency of the grooming activities; to the voyeuristic viewer, these intimate seconds are precious; to the girls, they’re routine, automatic, forgotten until the next morning. Take a look at the series, originally published in Inconnu Magazine, below. (via BUST and Inconnu)

Poignantly Raw Photographs Show An Uncensored Motherhood

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The photographer Elinor Carucci’s recent series Mother reads like a visual diary of the pains and pleasures of motherhood, a raw and uncensored confessional of love and a complex relationship to the female body. Within the aesthetic framework of more traditional portrayals of the mother, she highlights the visceral and bodily with romantic reverence.

Carucci relies in part upon the image of the art historical Virgin Mary, mirroring Renaissance paintings in which the virgin clasps the child in her lap, his soft baby limps coiled around her abdomen. Similarly, a strange and beautiful self-portrait features the artist in a hospital bed, a mysterious and seemingly divine light shone directly over her womb. With symmetry evocative of Renaissance art, her newborn twins nurse at her breasts, each head resting on a pillow of deep blue characteristic of the virgin.

Mother transforms our understanding of the divine, expanding it to apply to real, mortal women, our bodies and our fears. Unlike Mary, our protagonist is not a virgin; instead, her sexuality is the source of her creative energy; her milky breasts are shown alongside the vulva, her stretch marks and scars creating s subtle cross in the center of her torso. Her daughter, appropriately named Eden, sneaks a look down her mother’s underwear, marveling at the beauty and power of the genital area with moving innocence, her face bathed in light.

With the beauty of life and love comes the poignant fact of growing up and innocence lost. As the girl’s hair is cut, her green eyes are stricken with fear, the bothersome remains of lost hair littering her face. Similarly, a child bears a wound, which swells painfully from her lip like a ripe pomegranate seed; during bath time, she wriggles from her mother’s arms, shot in relative darkness, desperate to return to a state of play. Take a look. Mother is currently on display at New York’s Edwynn Houk Gallery. (via Beautiful Is Now and Feature Shoot)

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Tristan Pigott’s Paintings Capture Social Awkwardness And The Male Gaze

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The painter Tristan Pigott heightens the drama of everyday awkward interactions by imagining the mundane in dreamlike ways; altering proportion and shape to express his subjects’ self-conscious anxiety, he constructs an uncomfortable world dominated by the uncertainty of twenty-something men and women. As they form their adult identities, Pigott’s subjects fret over their appearance and public behavior.

Alcohol, hip clothing, makeup, and grooming products cease to be superficial or incidental and are transformed into poignant markers of inner dialogues. Two female subjects abandon words, opting instead to communicate through their own physical presentation; one applies mascara in her skivvies, while the other furrows her brow at a magazine advertisement. An attractive persona is of the utmost importance; a seductive lip tattoo becomes the subject of another painting, and similarly, a lady is shown carefully eating a hamburger that perfectly coordinates to her outfit, sure not to spill on her blouse.

Further heightening the psychological importance of public surroundings and everyday objects, the artist plays with perception, placing an out-of-context wine glass here, a gravity-defying newspaper there. Similarly, a see-through table alters the hue of the legs below as harsh brushstrokes break the illusion of realism, and a man peers at his watch, his anxiety seemingly circumventing the laws of physics and allowing his body to float above ground.

In this world where identities are malleable and uncertain, the male gaze is uncomfortably prominent. Where a man is shown to watch himself in the mirror, the women are seen with a subtle degree of voyeurism. In mixed company, women peer thoughtfully, even fretfully, at the viewer, where men seem to please only themselves, remaining blissfully unaware of onlookers. When the male subject is nude, his back and face are turned away, but breasts and glances of the unclothed female are directed outwards. Dominated by familiar social anxieties and uncomfortable sexual politics, Pigott’s imaginative public space is perhaps not as surreal as it might seem. (via iGNANT)

Former Playboy Bunnies Photographed Decades Later In Provocative Portraits

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When the renowned photographer Robyn Twomey visited the Former Playboy Bunny Reunion, she shot simple and engrossing headshots of women who had been Playboy Bunnies decades before, hoping the capture the complex and often contradictory nature of their former field. On one hand the women are mesmerizingly assertive, and yet, traces of vulnerability and self-consciousness mark their wrinkled brows.

Often, the women appear empowered by their sexuality, and their expressions border on the confrontational. Abandoning any show of passive feminine gentleness, a woman spangled in hot pink costume jewelry adopts a laissez-faire posture normally associated with masculinity, pursing her lips into a smirk and tossing her shoulder back with calculated attitude. Another makes an orgasmic facial expression, relaxing her lips around her open mouth, boldly pressing her breasts towards the camera.

Yet within these powerful and stunning individuals lies a poignant anxiety over growing older, one that boarders perhaps on self-doubt, expressed through a turn of the eye, a furrowed brow. A few turn away from the camera, staring into to the corner of Twomey’s tight frame with strained smiles or almost bashful eyes, their features and the passage of time made more noticeable by make-up that glistens under the bright lights.

Each woman is deeply sympathetic and beautiful, but the work calls into question the ethics of societal pressures enforced by brands and magazines like Playboy. When budding sexuality is valued above all, and when young women are both objectified and exalted, where does that leave aging women? The work is far from an indictment of its subjects; instead, it captures the complexities of a controversial industry that toes the line between supposed empowerment and potential degradation. What do you think? (via BUST and Feature Shoot)

Camila Valdez’s Sculptures Are Leggy Desserts

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Decadent desserts are paired with sexy legs in Argentinian-based artist Camila Valdez’s series of life and table-sized sculptures.  The faceless beings are placed in public and are posed on benches, seen exiting restaurants, and enjoying a picnic in the park. Despite the fact they can’t convey emotion through eyes or a mouth, Valdez has made their legs expressive. They are straight and together if trying to look pensive, or partially open as if trying to suggest something else.

This series literally objectifies women and compares them to a sugary treat that will rot your treat and should be enjoyed only every-so-often. At the same time, they reference outdated objects from the middle of the 20th century, where legs were attached to things like lamps (as seen in the film A Christmas Story). Valdez pokes fun at this absurd and fantastical objectification of the population. (Via HiFructose)

Feminist Photographs Show The Dark Side Of Beauty

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In a startling critique of the ways in which images of women’s bodies are consumed, the artist Jessica Ledwich presents “The Fanciful, Monstrous Feminine,” a collection of surreal photographs documenting the psychological consequences of contemporary beauty standards and practices. For Ledwich, female sexuality is viewed as “threatening” and is therefore oppressed; here, she exaggerates the femme fatale image, showing her red-lipped, square-nailed protagonist engaging in violence with her own body.

The female form, shiny and lacquered, appears like a hybrid, part human and part domestic cyborg; her youthful flesh is overtaken by the mechanics of beauty. In one image, severed and still-wriggling fingers are replaced with tweezers, and in another, she uses a vacuum cleaner to suction fat from her thighs, injecting it into her lips.

Improvements to the home and domestic realm take a literal toll on the female body and self; after awkwardly sculpting a just-budding lemon tree, a matriarch forces her own natural body into an hourglass with restrictive garments. The monotony of the daily grooming routine turns brutal and dehumanizing, and with each ritual, our subject sacrifices a bit of her identity until, like slabs of lifeless meat, her limbs, brains, and heart are sold off at a butcher shop cleverly referred to as “Limbsons.”

Tied to this endless pursuit of female perfection is the idea of motherhood, presented without an ounce of warmth or sentimentality. A C-section yields only an endless stream of identical plastic dolls, each removed with the same sterile, unfeeling determination that we see with the surgical implantation of breasts. The mother, robbed of her sexuality, is shown inserting biohazards material into a cooked egg, an uncomfortable action we might presume to represent her own impregnation. This bleak, unromantic portrayal of female beauty and fertility serves to remind us of the physically and psychologically painful demands placed on modern women’s bodies, leaving viewers yearning for a more humane world. (via Lost at E Minor and Design Taxi)

Ji Yeo Questions Female Beauty With Photo Series Of Women With Eating Disorders And Hollywood Models (NSFW)

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Brooklyn-based photographer Ji Yeo  creates Somewhere on the Path, I See You, a project in which the photographer captures two different types of women: one with extreme self-regulation and distorted notions of beauty that suffer from eating disorders, and the other women are aspiring actresses and models living in Hollywood, California, who are interested in the process of being represented because they carry dreams of fame.

By carefully selecting various body and personality types ,Yeo creates a sample of photos (and people) that further examine larger societal issues regarding ideas of beauty, self-definition, and self-respect.

By forcing viewers to confront images of women who by definition had been judged continuously by themselves, it brought focus to the viewers natural impulse to judge. In doing so it implicates them in the complex relationship we have with making aesthetic judgments.

Patty Carroll’s Ghostly Women Draped In Fabric

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Patty Carroll - Photography

Patty Carroll - Photography

Patty Carroll - Photography

Patty Carroll photographs women who hide behind fabric. In her series, Anonymous Women: Draped, she features figures sitting and standing, all shrouded in luscious fabrics, rugs, and more. These women are invisible, meant to convey the idea that as we perfect the space of our home, it can fuse with our identity. Carroll’s choice in fabrics harkens another era, and look like they could be in the house of a grandparent. The Nuclear family of the 1950′s and 1960′s comes to mind in her work, when women’s roles were often domestically confined. Carroll writes about the series and the inspiration and implications behind it, stating:

I am addressing the double edge of domesticity; the home as a place of comfort, or conversely, a place where decoration camouflages one’s individuality to the point of claustrophobia. The draperies in these photographs act as both a visual cue as well as a literal interpretation of over-identification/obsession! While my direct sources for this series come from furnishing a home, as well as remembering the nuns in their habits while growing up, this series also references draped statues from the Renaissance, women wearing the burka, the Virgin Mary, ancient Greek and Roman dress, priests’ and judges’ robes, among others. I believe everyone has a hidden identity formed by personal traditions, memories, and ideas that are cloaked from the outer world. Cultivating these inner psychological, emotional and intellectual worlds is perhaps our greatest challenge as people, wherever we come from or wherever we live. (Via I need a guide)