Hall of Portraits from The History of Machines constructs a disquieting satire that proposes an alternate pictorial history in which two objects of desire become one — the household convenience object and the emergent female form. In looking back at mid-20th century post-war commercial culture in America, the new modern woman begins to be idealized as sharing attributes with objects of domestic convenience, efficiency, and planned obsolescence. Mining the archive of material culture from advertising to the manufactured objects themselves, labor-saving domestic machines merge with the body, or vice-versa. The resulting digitally stitched together hybrid women seem familiar yet at the same time we know they are actually a highly fictional, patriarchal fantasy. Carried to the point of surrealism, these new works comprise a taxonomy of the suppressive and prejudicial stereotypes and fictive archetypes with which Americans – all of us – have been, and still are, inculcated and bombarded. At their monumental scale, each portrait measures 109.25 inches tall, which is the exact height of Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass). In making this reference, the project seeks to invite a deeper look at the invention and representation of woman as an object of ambivalence (both inanimate and animate).
Monumental scale works (109.25" x 76")
Medium-scale (59" x 42"). The original 12 plus 18 new hybrid women from 2020-21.
Small-scale works: acrylic painting over print on canvas mounted on wood panel, 18" x 24" (2021)
Facsimile source prints for Hall of Portraits from The History of Machines document the found objects from which the female figures are created. Sources are from mid-20th century magazines that have been scanned at high resolution from the original publication (original size relationships and left-right orientations are maintained in the prints), each fragment having been digitally manipulated, altered and re-sized to create the new images.