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Petrina Hicks, Infinity, 2011

Sancintya Simpson interviews ‘Artist of the Month’ Petrina Hicks

Petrina Hick’s hyper-real photographs subvert the language of the advertising industry; creating seductive imagery that challenges notions of idealised beauty; linking consumption to corruption. Glossy images of adolescents are made strange by the overly stylised, immaculate, digitally manipulated images. These all too-perfect renditions of youth have a subtle seductiveness about them, questioning societies notions of beauty and drawing binaries to ideas of perfection versus imperfection and the truth versus lies. Utilising the camera as a truth-manipulating tool, Hicks’ questions societies trust in the photographic image.

Petrina Hicks, The Chrysalis, 2011

Petrina Hicks, The Chrysalis, 2011

In Hick’s latest series Beautiful Creatures, a group of flawless, teenage girls, curiously and ritualistically analyse a large wound on one of the young female’s stomach. The highly fetishistic image is reminiscent of a jeans advertising campaign, the girls are devoid of any emotive expression as if they can’t comprehend or understand the imperfections existence.

The Chrysalis is a highly eroticised video, in which the subject continuously licks delicate, pink flowers, her saliva dripping off her tongue all over the plant, the flawlessness of her skin, the flowers and the absurdity in which the video is overtly mocking seduction as a tool of the advertising.

A young girl with porcelain skin stands in an ocean of milk, her hand slips seductively into the milky surface. Another wearing a puffy pink dress holds a fur-less cat, the eyes both matching, directly gaze at the viewer, creating an eerie tension. A young blonde haired, fair skinned female dreamily holds a platter of fruit to her face, eyes closed. The tension and the subtle sexuality in these images could be seen as perverse, instead the images are used to highlight and mock the language of the advertising industry.

Petrina Hicks, Untitled, 2011

Petrina Hicks, Untitled, 2011

S: What was your motivation in producing your current body of work?
P: I was interested in creating visceral works that revealed to vulnerability of humans, animals & creatures, with a focus on hair, skin, veins, wounds. As explored in many earlier works I’m interested to create images that seduce and repulse the viewer simultaneously, creating a push/pull effect. Some of the images look appealing and draw the viewer in, as I’ve used techniques employed in commercial advertising photography, yet at the same time I aim to deliver a feeling that does not satisfy, the way advertising images do. By manipulating the subtext of the image, I aim to create images that are ambiguous or disturbing in some way.

S: Do you have any particular processes for developing a new series?
P: Yes I use the internet to search for hundreds of very strange and random image references – I like Flickr, and many Stock photography websites. I also mostly look to other forms of art for inspiration; painting, film, performance. Then I make print outs of many of the references to create an image wall, that helps me to storyboard ideas for creating a new series of images.

S: Who or what are the major influences for your work?
P: I have great respect for the work of Diane Arbus and Cindy Sherman, and my favourite painter is Michael Borremans. However these artists probably don’t influence my work, I’m influenced by too many things to list; mostly other art forms, not necessarily photography.

S: What techniques do you use to achieve your highly stylised images?
P: I have worked in the past as a commercial photographer, and I use these exact same techniques when creating my art images. As I like them to have the same surface appearance as commercial photography, yet hopefully confound and disturb the viewer by making subtle manipulations and ruptures to the image content and sub-text.

For more about the artist click here.

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