Photographer Dana Hoey's previous exhibitions have focused on both young and older women, but for her upcoming show "The Phantom Sex," Hoey captures a more elusive subject. Her twelve-photograph series explores the search for the essential woman and the inevitable failure of such a quest.
Using masks, molds and casts, Hoey navigates the urge to shape oneself to a certain elusive ideal. She employs an unsettling yet beautiful mashup of flesh, plastic, and mirrors as the tools women use to craft perfect visions of themselves. Using statues, self-made casts and even a death mask of "Bladerunner" star Sean Young, Hoey addresses the uncanny sensation of shaping yourself from within your own body. We spoke to the artist to find out more about her ambitious new exhibition. Scroll down for a slideshow of her new works.
HP: What was one of the greatest challenges of this particular show?
DH: There has been a lot written on the subject. You always see yourself as other people see you. You have a mirror in your mind's eye. I wanted to retain that feeling and capture something very elusive by moving through other characters. The strangeness of being in a body while being a ghost of an image, and refining your body to fit this strange ideal.
HP: How do you think photography has affected this desire?
DH: I see myself as a picture in a two dimensional way. from growing up looking at fashion magazines. A lot of people view photography as a memory-holding medium -- it is the perfect medium for trying and failing to capture a body.
HP: Your exhibition is called "The Phantom Sex." Do you think the phenomenon of feeling like a ghost in your own body is particular to women?
DH: I think it probably effects men too, but I haven't really interviewed many men. Being objectified is kind of an essential part of the theorization of the female point of view. I don't speak for all females, I just really don't know what men experience.
HP: How did you decide to photograph masks and casts for your upcoming exhibition?
DH: I was thinking about the legend that if a woman dies in the forest, and she has silicone breast implants, they will outlive her. This image is certainly eerie but it's also sort of beautiful too. I started thinking: what if the whole person was plastic? I was also interested in how sculptures often mean idealized sculptures, beautiful, kind of perfect shapes.
HP: And how did Sean Young's death mask become involved?
DH: Well firstly, I love her and secondly, although she is human, she embodies this icon of being simultaneously plaster but real. Her mask was just a materialization of this idea. Also, it's not really a death mask because she is still alive. I just got it on eBay, a mask that was made in her prime.
HP: What contemporary artists are inspiring you right now?
I've actually been really inspired by watching boxing, female boxing. I can't think of any artists in particular at the moment. Photography is in a weird state right now, from my point of view. It is in a state when it is reflecting on itself. I am dead so maybe I'll reflect on that further. I am more narratively driven in my work.
"The Phantom Sex" will show at Friedrich Petzel Gallery from February 21 until March 30, 2013.
See a preview of the exhibition below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.