Thursday, July 29, 2010

Irene Lozano submits Justine Reyes

I began to research Justine Reyes after I came across her name in the Humble Arts, 31 Women in Art photography exhibit online. The images in this exhibit were inspired by Dutch Vanitas paintings, and Reyes incorporated personal objects that belonged to her grandmother and possessions of her own to translate the concept of memory and the passage of time. I was interested in more in her concept than the subject matter in this particular series, therefore I looked up more of her past work and found a series that I was drawn to named “Mask Series”. In this series of large scale colored self portraits, Reyes created a number of handmade masks made of pantyhose. I found it interesting that the masks were made of material that a person generally wears buried underneath clothes and close to very private areas, are exposed on the artist’s face. The pantyhose material almost becomes unrecognizable in the way the masks were constructed. As a viewer you are pushed to unmasking the layers of this person’s identity. The material used to create the masks also adds sexual connotation to the image. She works with pantyhose because they are a sexual reference but also make reference to the masks of criminals. These close up head shots create tension with the viewer because you are not aware of what lies beneath the material, on a few, you get a glimpse of skin and piercing eyes. I am drawn to this body of work because it explores identity and creates tension. The artist has said that “The mystery that the veil or mask creates is one that is highly sexualized. There is a tension created by veiling. Some people are afraid of not knowing what lies beneath the veil. In this work, I use the mask to explore issues of identity, veiling and the gaze in relationship to power and sexuality.”

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