Liz Wolfe is hands down one of my favourite photographers. I’ve raved about her before, and today was a double-dose of acid-bright Liz Wolfe goodness. She’s revamped and posted new work on her site and also opened her first online store. It’s almost too much for me to handle.
In her latest work she continues to explore the visual and emotional interplay of creatures and confections. One facet of what fascinates me about her photographs are the juxtaposition of the cute and the vile. Her photos are always a surprise. Innocent at first, each piece creates a shift upon a closer look as you realize that all really isn’t what it seems.
In “Diseased Deer”, a smiling, pure-white proto-Bambi sits on a bed of yellow flowers. It’s affliction? A rash of candy confetti.
In “Meat Tree”, plasticine rainbows, rough and looking as if they were made buy a child, sit like fruit inside a round tree. Organic, yes, but because the tree is made out of ground beef and not leaves and branches. While in “Popsicle” the familiar treat dangles upside down as it melts away into a juice so thick and sanguine it puddles like blood.
Wolfe is an expert not only at creating visually arresting images, but of layering her subjects so that you always have to look twice. In each photo, despite its saccharine veneer, there is always something more devious rippling beneath the surface.
It’s a telling statement on western culture and our obsession with surface beauty and aesthetic perfection. At first glance, the world of these photos is ideal and wonderful, but one more blink and if you look close enough the truth of what’s inside is revealed. Like anything contentious – third world poverty, the climate crisis, your credit card balance – it’s easy to see only what you want to through candy-coated glasses, but the truth is never far underneath.
Not only that, but the eerie edification of the flaw itself – rivers of red sprinkle blood, a delicate pink teacup filled with flowers and meat – points even further to our ability to deny realities and attempt to gloss over things we don’t consider pretty. Her photos are like scars wrapped in candy floss. Insecurities dipped in chocolate. Tanks rolling through a citrus sugar desert, and everyone looks away when the bullets begin to fly.
I’ve been waiting for a while to get some Liz Wolfe on my wall. Now, thankfully, she’s launched her online store. Two new miniphoto collections are up for grabs. Focusing on two main themes of her work, “Sugar” and “Creature” each contain 10 6″x8″ prints on Fuji Crystal Archive photo paper. Now you can have a conversation-inducing piece of Wolfe in each room of your house. Or, if you’re like me, in various nooks and crannies of your bachelor pad. The only problem now, really, is picking which set to get. I think I may have to get both.
To finish off, here are two of my faves – quintessential examples of Wolfe’s ability to merge the stereotypically beautiful with the pre-supposedly grotesque and force us to re-examine our desire to judge and our preconceptions of beauty. The names themselves are absurd little wonders: I give you “Shoes on Ham Tiles” and “Chicken Feet with Lilies”.
Thanks to Liz for the scoop.