As timely now as in 1976, art photographer Laurie Simmons’ pioneering perspective on gender and femininity makes for must-see viewing.
Laurie Simmons, Pushing Lipstick (Spotlight), 1979. Photo: © Laurie Simmons, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94.
Laurie Simmons has been delving into notions of gender roles in her photography and films since the late ’70s, making for a broad body of work well worth exploring. Starting in February, the MCA does just that with Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera, organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Says senior curator Andrea Karnes, “Simmons is a master colorist and has performed rigorous exercises through the camera lens that have tested the limits of scale. All the while, she has explored gender norms, and how we work with, and against, them in our daily lives.”
Case in point: “How We See/Ajak/Violet,” a startling photograph of a woman on whose closed eyelids another pair of eyes have been painted, all against a vivid violet background. Notes Karnes, “Because the eyes are painted on, there’s something otherworldly about the portrait. This image speaks to how women are objectified. We are seeing Ajak, and though she has painted eyes, her actual eyes are negated—so we are in the power position as voyeur. The power of this image is multidimensional—even in that the beautiful woman seen in Ajak reminds us that idealized beauty is something we all face in imagery every day. It’s a hard standard to live up to in reality.” Feb. 23-May 5, 220 E. Chicago Ave.