Saturday, February 13, 2010

"My Girls", a critical analysis by Kay Stratton

In a clothing boutique in Jyvaskyla, Finland, is a juxtaposition of thereal and unreal waiting to be photographed. The life of a fashion modelhas seldom been so well articulated. Evan Tyler’s My Girls capturesmannequins in various states of dress (and undress). The differencebetween them and real women can often fool the eye. It is the nature ofphotographs to have us question reality. Lighting tricks the eye so anobserver can be unsure as to whether what is captured is a ‘person’ ornot. Photography fictionalizes events and seems to suggest a story foreach picture. By turning mannequins into ‘subjects’, Tyler questions thenature of the self and its relationship to the real. Is it simply thatthe ‘models’ mimic life and the real, or is it that fashion attempts tomimic the mannequins?

Setting is also a subject in Tyler’s work. In a space where the bodybeautiful is naturally commodified, the shop, we are asked to wonder ifour mirroring bodies are also objectified. Tyler suggests that allbodies are already commodified; the subject is for sale. If the subjectis simply image and beauty picked from the shelves by smart-eyedshoppers, what can ever be considered distinct about that subject? Arewe the sum of our choices, the clothes we wear, our choice ofblank-model-faced? Ultimately, Tyler’s work provokes a larger question,one observers must answer for themselves: ‘Are the mannequins set up tomimic us, or are we setting ourselves up to mimic them?’

Evan Tyler continues to collect a few more ‘girls’, with the intentionto expand the series. He sees himself as a ‘lens’ capturing images forman attitude that questions questioning urban reality and our place within it.

Kay Stratton


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