Argentinian photographer Lucia Fainzilber toys with notions of identity through optically illusive images. In her new exhibition “Somewear” at Praxis, Fainzilber took a series of self-portraits where she cloaked herself in camouflaging fabrics, making it difficult to differentiate between her body and similarly colored backgrounds.
“Setting my body in front of the camera has been a way of looking myself in another way, trying to answer all those questions about who we really are,” Fainzilber says. “Society, family and the generation we live in, make this journey even harder…. Is it possible to isolate our more pure self to everything that it’s attached to us?” she asks. Inspired by memories of childhood and surrealistic painting, the artist creates hybrid images that are dreamlike and feminine. For her previous series “Paradise,” she manipulated photographs of New York City, combining carnival scenes with beaches, producing haunting yet ethereal photographs.
Fainzilber cleverly plays with color and pattern in her portraits, skillfully selecting contrasting yet camouflaging swatches of fabric and scenes from life; for example, she merges a wall of ivy with floral clothing, and scalloped black-and-white fabric with a chain link fence. In Untitled #2 (2014), the artist’s concealment is less obvious, as she stands against a clear blue sky wearing a royal blue blazer and white cap that mimic the serene setting, while also subtly referencing the paintings of René Magritte.
Fainzilber has always had a keen interest in fashion, and dressed flamboyantly even as a child. Now the artist, who also works as a fashion photographer, uses her images to show the ways we use fashion to convey identity, and the way fabrics can simultaneously cover us and express who we are. Fainzilber recognizes that sometimes clothing completely hides our identity, and many of her portraits communicate this feeling, as her own identity is entirely concealed, and further obscured by the world around her.
“Somewear” is on view at Praxis, New York, Oct. 30–Dec. 20, 2014.