The Incoherent Light

Petrina Hicks

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On the evidence of much contemporary work we might suppose that photography has reached a point where the burden of its own history becomes the impetus for a forceful reassessment of the medium and those ends to which it can be put - this history is now also a vocabulary of potential forms. In the work of Petrina Hicks we see the familiar style of commercial imagery used in a way that not only suggests the glossy seduction of objects and aspirational lifestyles, but it is also how she manages to create a deep sense of estrangement. The “perfection” of her subjects, the lighting and the surfaces becomes a deadening, even oppressive space of narrative complexity. All of this is achieved merely by a clever (and actually quite minimal) shift in emphasis from the expected formulation of commercial imagery - the stasis of what it “beautiful” lurches into the abject, liquid realm of desire where boundaries lose their edge and everything bleeds together. It is the amalgam of these intentionally corrupted styles with the particularity of her subject-matter that lends the work much of its strange power.

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