Comments/Context: Hillary Holsonback's new works remind us that an entire generation of younger artists have been following in the conceptual footsteps of Cindy Sherman, watching the evolution of her art and using it as a jumping off place for their own explorations. Holsonback's photographs start with a bit of Pictures Generation-style image appropriation and then move someplace new via a combination of physical performance and optical distortion, delivering a fresh, layered examination of feminine identity.
Golden age Hollywood glamour is the baseline for these works. The images begin with oversized advertising head shots of Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor, Senta Berger, Hedy Lamarr and the like, which have been projected up onto a studio wall. Wearing a billowy draped dress and a white eye mask, Holsonback literally climbs into the images of the famous women, standing in front of the projected light and merging into the backdrop. As she moves back and forth, the gauzy fabric folds and gathers, creating swirling blurs and distortions in the faces: Liz's right eye moves up into her forehead while Holsonback's face peeks through in her cheek and Audrey's face puckers as Holsonback appears under the curve of her hairline. The disruptions are unsettling, undermining the controlled perfection of the ads. Both physically and metaphorically, Holsonback is locating herself in this history (thus the "looking through" title of the show), borrowing from and reconfiguring the famous women as she defines herself.
While this is a simple visual conceit, I think Holsonback has executed it with flair. The works are bold and bright, with just enough puzzling disfigurement and peek through personality to keep the viewer off balance.
Collector's POV: The photographs in this show are priced at $4500 each. Holsonback's work has no secondary market history at this point, so gallery retail is likely the only option for those collectors interested in following up.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
- Holsonback artist site (here)
Through September 29th
504 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011