The personas that Parker Day creates with her subjects aim to capture an authentic feeling in the face of the outlandish. Each persona is a collaborative effort between the photographer and the model, the outcome being a combined vision that depicts equal parts ordinary and absurd. In her new series of portraits at Superchief Gallery in Los Angeles, ICONS, Day presents an impressive array of 100 portraits one-and-a-half years in the making.
“It’s all about the malleability of identity,” Day tells The Creators Project on selecting the muses that she photographs. “I look for brazen beauties who defy convention. People who embrace the absurd and aren’t too precious about their image. They have to get a bit wild and greasy with me so it doesn’t fly to be overly self-conscious.” With each constructed identity, narratives arise in Day’s portraits, expressing super-saturated visions of life stories and bold versions of existing realities.
When building the portraits of her subjects, Day creates a dialog with her models, piecing the elements together in collaborative efforts of costuming, make-up, and props. “I like to be very improvisational and give room for the unexpected to creep in," she explains. "It’s in my nature to lead but I love welcoming new ideas and am happy to take a step back to let someone else’s brilliance shine.”
Striking nods to pop-culture, gender and contemporary language all make appearances in Day’s work. Allowing the joint process to be her guide, Day is able to almost effortlessly create an uncontrived visual language based in the brazen, bizarre that emerges. Day says, “What’s considered glamorous or grotesque is always subject to change accordingly to society’s whims. By smashing them all together I hope to blur the boundaries and question why we think something is alluring instead of repellent. The simultaneous feeling of being seduced and repulsed is very nice indeed.”
The cohesiveness of Day’s portraits are no accident, either. While the joint effort between Day, her subjects, and the occasional third party exist in harmony, Day admits to us, “I did go to beauty school so I have a certain comfort level with hair and makeup. I usually prefer my bad makeup to the perfectly blended pro’s approach. I like to shoot people who share my tastes and eccentricities. It makes it easy go between my ideas and theirs and keep it all cohesive.”