Objet Fatale conflates two concepts: objet d’art, a high quality decorative object, or a curiosity for your cabinet, usually collectible; and femme fatale, a female stock character whose dangerous, seductive beauty and feminine wiles draw man to his demise.
Artist Mona Bozorgi’s recent photo-sculptural work examines how these concepts collapse across cultural and societal attitudes toward women. She interrogates positive and negative associations with femininity, visual representations of women in pop culture, and a fetishization of women akin to a fetishization of cultural objects.
In Untitled # 08, a woman’s head is perched on a white pedestal, her shiny dark hair a perfect mount for a voluptuous and intricately painted ceramic. Her hair conceals much of her face, and her one visible eye, closed, appears to sport false eyelashes. Bozorgi calls out the formula for female objectification: strip away personal identifiers, conform to a heteronormative iteration of some feminine ideal, and hybridize with consumable goods.
Some photos bend and curl with dimension and sheen suggestive of glossy commercial magazine pages from which that feminine beauty ideal typically beams down on us, but instead depict real, flawed bodies, and wrinkles and lumps of skin. In Untitled # 13, a curled close-up photo of stubbly, unshaved skin is inserted into a demure, lace-trimmed thigh-high, a literal and metaphorical squeezing of the natural, “flawed” feminine body into a device meant to constrain and conceal, even eroticize. Bozorgi’s work flips the role of photographic media—so often used in the commercial world to confirm false ideals—by revealing the charade and the damage it inherently inflicts.
Bozorgi will participate in Center’s Review Santa Fe in October, and her photography will be on view at the Portfolio Walk on Friday, October 19, 6-8 pm, at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Pavilion.
Mona Bozorgi was born and raised in Iran. She received her BA in Photography from the Art and Architecture University of Tehran, Iran, and her MFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design in the United States. Bozorgi utilizes photography to represent the complexities of culture, society, and personal reflection. Her studio practice and research are focused on issues of female repression and representation.