Lee Price. According to a recent article in Sociological Images, Price draws two contrasts.
First, she makes very public something we are supposed to do only in private. Not only do the paintings literally display the transgression, the birds eye view and frequent nudity exaggerates the sheer display of the indulgence. And, second, she takes something that is supposedly disgusting and shameful and presents it in a medium associated with [high] art, challenging the association of indulgence with poor character and a lack of refinement.Similarly, BUST magazine contributor Emily McCombs, writes:
One one level, her work is about compulsivity: the aerial view is meant to conjure the sensation of watching oneself engage in a compulsive behavior and being unable to stop it. That aspect seems to resonate for many - Price often hears her work referred to as "binge paintings" or "bulimia paintings." But she asserts that the images of women in repose surrounded by unrestricted portions of decadent treats can also be seen as a kind of liberation from the constant monitoring of food choices that so many engage in."In this society, there's so much pressure for women to be thin," says Price. We're not supposed to have appetites - and not just for food, but for a lot of things. We're the givers and not the consumers, and I think some of my recent paintings are about the women starting at the viewers and saying, 'I'm not going to censor my appetite.'"
Price hopes that her self-portraits will "open up a dialogue about the taboo subject of women and food." "A lot of times," she says, "I feel like people are skirting the issues, like they don't want to discuss the content. I'm surprised how few people ask me what they're about. I feel like it makes people uncomfortable." Um, yeah. Ya' think? Price continues, "But I'm painting them and I'm displaying them. I'm not really trying to hide anything. I'm putting something on the table, like, 'Here, look at this. Maybe you can relate to this.'"
"I can't decide," I responded. "You're so right about it being unnerving. I wonder what the artist would say? Is it her intention to reveal a shameful act? Or to normalize an innocuous act that only society has made shameful? There's something to her being naked around the food, I think? Like it's supposed to be unnerving, undressing, even. Like it's supposed to stay behind closed doors. Oof. Trippy."
And then just yesterday, my friend wrote back, "It's so interesting to me how she talks about it being both about compulsion and liberation. I don't see liberation when I look at these - rebellion maybe, probably because of the baggage I bring to them. I can't imagine being the woman in any of these and feeling anything close to liberated. But I suppose the exercise of staring at them and trying to imagine how I might be the girl in the bathroom surrounded by 'bad' food but not miserable is kind of liberating in itself... I'm imagining binging and not doing it for self-loathing, punishing or rebellious reasons. It's kind of weird how that is literally beyond the scope of something I can conceive of in reality. Anyway, they're so charged."
Indeed, Price's paintings are nothing if not charged. And for some reason or another, I cannot look away.
What do you think, friends? What is your initial reaction? What happens in your body when you look at them? Is there one rendering that you find particularly interesting? Troubling? Liberating? And what about that liberation piece, anyway? Do you buy it?