March 23, 2018, 17:59

The Photographer Who Dresses Her Mother in Female Drag |

The Photographer Who Dresses Her Mother in Female Drag |


“Mom with Skittles in Her Shirt,” 2010.

Photograph by Natalie Krick

When she was in graduate school, the photographer Natalie Krick began
taking pictures of women in what she calls “female drag.” She would meet
her subjects on Web sites like Craigslist or Model Mayhem, go over to
their houses, and give them ultra-feminine makeovers: bright lipstick,
false nails and eyelashes, pushup bras. One day, her mother came to
visit. “She’s a lot older than the women I was photographing, and I
really liked that, because I was thinking a lot about idealized beauty,
and the way that the body is sexualized and styled,” Krick said
recently. Women over fifty don’t appear in ads in fashion
magazines; women over fifty don’t really appear in ads, period,
aside from ones for prescription medications and senior cruises. Krick
wondered what it would be like to photograph her mother in the way of
the younger women she was working with, dolled up as a glamorized object
of desire.

The resulting photographs, which won Aperture’s 2017 Portfolio Prize,
appear in Krick’s first book, “Natural Deceptions,”
and they are wild. In one picture, Krick’s mother, in red lipstick and
sheer pantyhose, pushes up her shirt to reveal a black patterned bra and
pale swath of belly. In another, she lounges in a patch of wheat,
wrapped in a white fur coat, gazing softly at the camera like an indie
darling. Dressed in a plunging red blouse, she throws back her head to
accentuate the curve of her long neck; in a teal dress, riding high up
over her black stockings, she curls up on a teal bedspread with a teal
telephone receiver pressed to her ear. With their harsh lighting and
bright, garish colors, the photographs—which also feature Krick and her
sister Hillary—play with the louche, lurid, come-hither aesthetic of high-end
fashion advertising, enticing and repelling the viewer at the same time.
Juergen Teller comes to mind, as does Cindy
Sherman, with her chameleonic embodiment of exaggerated female
characters, though in Krick’s pictures the special relationship between
photographer and subject is always front and center. A mother isn’t
supposed to flaunt her sexuality, and yet here the daughter primps and
styles her mother in high vamp style, as if trying to glimpse the weird
erotic energy that brought her into the world even as she keeps it at
the safe distance of pastiche.

“Mom as Me,” 2012.

Photograph by Natalie Krick

The taboo works both ways. In a photo called “Mom as Me,” Krick’s mother
poses on a bed in a short floral dress, a stole wrapped around her neck,
staring at the viewer as if she’s just been interrupted in a private
moment. There’s something endearingly adolescent in the way she leans on
her hands and tucks her legs under her, impersonating her daughter in
some posture that she must know intimately as the real thing stands
behind the camera and snaps.


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