Parker Day is a Los Angeles based artist whose work explores identity and the masks we wear. Her focus is on fictionalized portraiture shot exclusively in studio on 35mm film.
The world she creates is populated by colourful eccentrics from the seamy side of life. She forgoes photoshopped fantasies in favour of so-called blemishes, fly away hairs, and dust on negatives. This gritty realism serves as a counter point to her refined studio lighting and stylised subjects.
“Through my photography I explore this idea of the invention of identity. I costume my subjects and craft narratives about the character they’re becoming. When they step outside of who they think they are, something more authentic comes through. It’s that presence of true emotion that I’m looking to capture in the trappings of a manufactured circumstance.”
Parker explains that despite the saturated hues and often humorous subjects, there’s a darkness and a gentle undercurrent of rage that permeates her work. “I’m interested in the idea that we have the power to shape our own realities but despite our abundant potential, we often feel beset by our circumstances. This gives rise to tensions and inner conflicts. It’s these feelings of frustration and the search for meaning I want to explore in the face of the absurdity of our existence.”
For the past year, the LA-based artist has been conjuring similarly surreal narratives for her series of 100 portraits, ICONS.”I want there to be a fuzzy line between “real” people and imagined characters. What you perceive of another person is largely a reflection of yourself and I hope to confront people with that.” To Day, an icon is representative of something – a symbol. These characters exploit symbols to their benefit –they’re using them as tools. The way I shoot them is reverent, with the bright colors, flat lighting or high contrast – kind of like an inked comic book page – sealing their status.