The Glow of Technology Burns Brightly in Multimedia Work from Rachel Lee Hovnanian
In a wide range of mediums—including photography, sculpture, installation, conceptual work, and performance—Rachel Lee Hovnanian explores themes of narcissism and its relationship to media, technology, and gender roles in society. Hovnanian is particularly concerned with the darker aspects of society’s obsession with female beauty and the anxiety it engenders in women about their appearance—armies of idealized white female figurines inhabit Hovnanian’s photography with disturbing homogeneity. In Beauty Queen Vending Machine (2009), which is modeled after an arcade game, viewers are invited to use the mechanized metal claw to pick out a small silver figurine of a female model, but quickly find that it is impossible to grasp. The image of the narcissus flower also recurs in Hovnanian’s work, suggesting the mythologies surrounding beauty and offering a counterpoint to the conventional image of beauty through notions of loss and decay.
American, Parkersburg, West Virginia, based in New York, New York