Portraiture is the servant of ideology, vanity, seduction, and nostalgia. The fact that we maintain legal right to our image (except when categorized as newsworthy or art) underscores its inherent power both for and potentially against us. Questioning who is being represented, how, where, why, and to what end is essential to unveiling what Barthes called the “ineffable social whole” in a photographic portrait.
How we are seen by others has enormous influence over how much access, assistance, and encouragement we are likely to encounter, and consequently the kinds of choices we are able to make, or even allow ourselves to consider available. In his essay “Photography and Electoral Appeal,” Roland Barthes said of the political candidate’s portrait, “…he is at once the product, the example, and the bait…”
This work includes portraits of fifteen different individuals, all female, of different ages, races, and sizes. They are arranged as if on display or awaiting shipment.