Recent Parson’s graduate Jessica Richmond is a photographer of deceptions. She lies. Her self-portraits are constructed. She uses herself and a life size cut out of herself. The cut out she refers to as Connie, the sister that never existed. Her visually confusing imagery causes pause and defies logic more than they questions roles of gender. Hers is a deception of translation and spatial questioning. Her lie is far more honest because ultimately she made it.
“I had to be uncomfortable,” Richmond tells me when I ask her to explain how she started. “I wanted to photograph models but didn’t have the access, so I started cutting them out of magazines.” Through cutting and constructing images she was able to start confusing peers and telling stories that weren’t real. By the sound of it she comes from a family of storytellers. Her sister Connie is her story. “Photographing myself made me feel hugely uncomfortable.” Does a woman gain agency over herself when she takes her own picture? Richmond seems more interested in identity and ideas. So do her photographs. It may be easy to take swings at the metaphor of flattening a woman and printing her on paper. However her printed self, Connie, doesn’t become fragile. Connie is a tool to embellish the image. Richmond and her sister are redefining reality.
Can we trust our own memories? Richmond uses certain photographic lies to tell a kind of truth. It only exists if you see it as temporary. The images are engagingly confusing on purpose because she wants to make you think. I find myself losing track of her versus Connie. They become inseparable and a new self-image and a different identity emerges. The illusion is wonderful and real; it all happens in front of the camera, nothing’s manipulated afterwards. Richmond’s photographs create confusing myths and raise more questions than they may answer. A good family story can be like that; in many ways these images become a very recognizable metaphor.
Check out more of Jessica Richmond’s work by clicking here.