Note: This post contains some (quite lovely) nudity. Consider yourself warned.
The show is called "Pheromone Hotbox." If just those very words conjure up a strange heat in your body parts, a feeling that's mysterious, sensual, frenzied and feminine -- you're on the right track. The current exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery features five young female artists, each addressing contemporary themes of self-portraiture, post-feminism and selfie culture in her own way -- often, without much clothing involved.
The exhibition features emerging photographers Aneta Bartos, Amanda Charchian, Shae DeTar, Olivia Locher, and Marianna Rothen, each of whom will showcase ten recent works, all photographs of women by women.
"The understood biological purpose of pheromones is creation," Charchian, who developed the show's title, explained to the gallery. "In addition to reproduction in the organs, creation manifests itself for the female artist as an expanded conduit for communication of pheromones between spiritual and material realms. Exuding from the female psyche, these images become an imprint from this hotbox of uninhibited vision. The tension created by sending these pheromones into a biologically confounded process is specific to photographing another woman intimately."
The artists' techniques tend to converge -- they all recruit their friends as models, taking them to remote locations where they proceed to act out loosely defined narratives taking place in the nexus of reality and mythical memory. As Charchian told Time Out New York, "The line between dream and reality is super thin, and art is a way to get to that point." However, despite this baseline similarity, each artist has an artistic flavor and aftertaste all her own. See their work below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Kripplebush, 2013 C-Print from Polaroid 13 x 13 in Edition 1/5 + 2APs
Bartos' crafts haunting realms that land somewhere between a pastoral landscape and a twisted nightmare. Her female models resemble a strong woman from one angle, a mangled, supernatural creature from another. The pictured women are utterly strange and hypnotic, leaving the viewer unsure whether to run away or join in.
Bat, 2010 C-Print from Polaroid 18 x 18 in Edition 2/5 + 2APs
Ginger Entanglement, 2013 C-Print 16 x 24 in Edition 1/10
Charchian captures unclothed women in extreme yet ambiguous destinations -- beaches that look like the edges of the earth or rooms that appear to have no entrance or exit. Her models combine ethereal uncertainty with a contemporary cut, rendering them somewhere between a fashion editorial and a siren song.
Calm Sea, Come See Comme Ci, 2012 C-Print 16 x 24 in Edition 1/10
De Tar's psychedelic scenarios seem like souvenir postcards from another dimension. The artist paints over her photographs by hand, giving them a timeless feel both 1960s and pre-Raphaelite. The resulting images are reminiscent of a cult gathering or a drug-tinged fairy tale.
Inception of Girlfriends, 2014 Painted photo collage 24 x 19 in Edition of 7
Locher toys with color and intensity to craft piercing images that are seriously about their playfulness. Using color as a guide, Locher turns nude bodies into geometric shapes, camouflaging and contrasting with the monochrome worlds around them. It's easy to forget the surreal images are actually portraits.
Olivia Locher Stuck on Gum, 2012 Archival pigment print 15 x 15 in Edition of 5 + 2APs
Untitled #6 (from the series Women of Canterbury), 2011 Pigment print on Fine Art Paper 25 x 25 in Edition 1/5
Rothen's dreamy photos feel like stills from a classic retro film that doesn't exist. Women dolled up in garishly fake wigs and not much clothing channel starlets past while frolicking in the woods or staring longingly out the window. If the young spirits of Monica Vitti and Brigitte Bardot are out partying somewhere, it's in these images.
Marianna Rothen, Untitled #12 (from the series Snow and Rose), 2011
"Pheromone Hotbox" runs until February 28, 2015 at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York.