This portfolio appears in VICE Magazine's 2019 Photo Issue. With this issue we wanted to celebrate the absurd, the lighthearted, and the humorous. It’s important to take a break from the real world. As much as we need to be informed, engaged, and aware, we also need to laugh. We wanted to champion the people making art with a sense of humor. In today’s climate, there’s something nicely subversive about that. You can read more about our theme in the letter from our editor.
Jessica Pettway is a 24-year-old New York-based photographer who uses humor to create colorful, provocative images. She specializes in creating playful compositions and surreal environments that toy with the boundaries of nature and explores our desire for the artificial. Take the work she submitted for this year’s photo issue: “Common Scents” pokes fun at the ridiculous scent names that typically don candle and cleaning product packaging. Taking popular aromas like “Country Apple” and “Baby Powder,” she re-imagines what they would look like if interpreted literally (and with a sprinkle of irony). As she explains, “Highlighting the absurdly artificial fragrances we’ve grown up loving teaches us that ‘Sea Breeze’ doesn’t always smell so fresh and poorly done laundry can in fact be crunchy. This series challenges our reality and we learn that none of it actually makes any sense.”