Monday 25 April 2011

Natasha Caruana

"Sorry now sold"

"You will feel like a princess"

"If it doesn't sell I will take it as a sign I'm not meant to part with it"

All images © Natasha Caruana

Natasha Caruana was my stand-out artist during the portfolio reviews at this year's FORMAT International Photography Festival in Derby and her latest series of work, Fairytale for Sale seems very pertinent given the Royal Wedding that looms large. The project exposes the world of online wedding dress re-sale in a manner that is both humorous and offers a complex cultural commentary on the idea of marriage. The omission of personal identities through markings and blue tack, in juxtaposition with comments intended to sale the item, loads the work with both narrative and critical possibility.

Posing as a woman hunting for the perfect dress, Caruana befriends the brides who in her words: "reveal that the artefacts of the big day are being discarded; sold for money to de-clutter the wardrobe, make space for births or in some cases because the dresses are now tainted with divorce. Their words punctuate the images."

Caruana further explains her work and interest in the phenomena: "The smiling faces of the bride, groom and their entourages’ are blocked out in white, cloned over, smothered in blue tac or scratched off in a bid to disguise and make anonymous their private day now in the public arena. What remains are bizarre theatres of marriage; white-faced performers have taken to the stage and act out emblematic scenes. The original wedding album represents the trophy, the validation of a ceremony, a ritual performed, a tradition upheld as a record of the perfect day. But now the party is over, the cake has been eaten, the presents have been opened, and the photographs have been framed; the online adverts represent the detritus, the props of the fairytale wedding production."

Caruana's matured foray into themes of love and the everyday comes after The Other Woman and Married Man. Her works have been exhibited in various group shows, such as Invisible Adversaries, alongside Francesco Goya and John Constable and The Fool at the Northern Gallery of Contemporary of Art, Sunderland. Previous group and solo exhibitions have been in The United States, Poland, Germany and Saudi Arabia. Her work is held in the collections of the British Library, Woman’s Library in the UK and the Laguna Art Museum and The Kinsey Institute in the United States.

Born in 1983 Caruana is a practising artist, lecturer of photography and founding director of the London based studioSTRIKE artists studios. She graduated from an MA in photography at the Royal College of Art in 2008 and is currently a lecturer of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey. Her work was shortlisted for the National Magazine Awards in 2007 and the Deutsche Bank Pyramid prize in 2008. In 2010 Caruana was named as the one to watch in the Royal Photographic Society Journal and the British Journal of Photography and selected by the Humble Arts Foundation as one of 18 leading female art photographers working in the UK.