Eva O’Leary (b. 1989) is an artist whose work combines photography and video to explore identity and emotion in contemporary western culture.Bio
The subject of A New Gaze 2017 was Security/Insecurity, which is not only affecting changes in the finance sector, but also geopolitically and sociopolitically. Eva O’Leary’s (b. 1989, United States) submission made a great impression on the Vontobel Arts Commission and she was charged with realising her project Concealer.
In the context of "A New Gaze", O’Leary created a tripartite work in which she examined photography as an instrument for the creation of different realities in the contemporary Western society. At the heart of her examination is the rhetoric of commercial photography, which presents us with a continuous stream of perfect new realities unsettling our own perceptions and state of mind. O’Leary is looking into how and according to which role models young people, especially young women, create the public image that is reflecting them in social networks. She counterposes these individual images with a new kind of photography of people and landscapes; one in which the contradictions and fractures between the public, displayed and printed advertising images and actual reality intermix and create friction.
"No matter how much I object politically or artistically to the rhetoric of commercial photography, I am seduced by its tricks - the ways it sweetens the body and the landscape, masks the unpleasant, and transforms beauty and desire into myth. From a young age, this kind of imagery taught me to suppress my desires, values, personality, and flaws. It’s an experience common to many women; we are shaped by ideologies of domination and control within contemporary commerce; projecting fantasies onto our bodies that are not our own. I see my work as an alternate propaganda, one in which I take on the language of commercial photography in order to arrive at something darker. Self-tanner becomes a creeping rash, tattoos are strange and inscrutable, and a body of water engulfs a human body through the glittery trick of a lens."