January 14 - March 3, 2018
Fourteen30 Contemporary is pleased to present Mirror Mirror, an exhibition of new work by Portland, OR-based photographer Melanie Flood. The show will open January 14, 2018 and run through March 3, 2018, with an opening reception Sunday, January 14th from 11am to 1pm. This will be Flood’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Aligned with contemporary conceptual photographers such as Anne Collier, Annette Kelm, Sara VanDerBeek, and Eileen Quinlan, Flood’s practice brings together two potentially opposing areas of exploration. Maintaining a cool and formal distance, her work employs the tools of still-life and commercial photography, while examining modern femininity and the female body. Ultimately, this examination turns intimate, conjuring Flood’s personal experiences and relationships.
Like Kelm, Flood’s jumping off point is the blank, seamless backdrop and platform of the commercial photographer. This pristine netherworld is Flood’s picture plane, host to an assortment of disparate objects, meticulously arranged into coy and performative sculptural forms. These sculptures are ephemeral, constructed solely to be the object of the camera’s gaze, eternally constrained to two dimensions. Though the chosen materials are often cheap and flimsy relics of pop culture and mass consumerism (pantyhose, ThighMaster, toilet brush holder), they are easily transformed into sensuous, refined reflections of the feminine experience through perfect lighting and the simple act of being photographed.
This transformation, from humble to slick and polished, mirrors the (perhaps unrealized, perhaps unattainable) fantasies and expectations of many little girls waiting to grow up. As the artist herself says: “I look in the mirror and wait to see myself as I thought a woman should look—poised, tucked, upright. My work is the space where that desire is obtained. I tuck, pleat, fold, stuff, balance, refine the materials into evocative gestures.” The seductive tactility of these tawdry and suggestive materials reveals tensions between domesticity and power, femininity and ambition, finally revealing familiar stories of body discomfort, physical humor, and self-intimacy.