Some of the best ideas in the world start out as pub dares. London artist Eleanor Macnair’s internet-walloping Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh project recreates iconic works by the likes of Diane Arbus, August Sander, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Wall in bright pastes with a cheeky, witty, technically masterful attention to detail.
Macnair considers each image afresh and with meticulous attention so that she can reduce it to simple enough components to make the Play-Doh incarnation feasible. Throughout the process she’s very aware of the slowed-down, patiently analog nature of what she does—that is, until she recommits the picture to digital photographs, unleashing them online, and dismantling her clay tableaux.
The success of the first compositions were something of a lark on Macnair’s Tumblr page where the project went viral fast. She’s since garnered more than 35K Instagram followers, but her exhibition at photography-centric contemporary art venue Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles will be her very first gallery show in the US.
So what would attract a well-established gallery in contemporary photography to exhibit work that could be seen as a bit of a send-up of the medium? “I’m struck by the images that Eleanor choses to recreate in Play-Doh,” Paul Kopeikin tells The Creators Project. “They’re almost all photographs I am familiar with, and yet her transformation makes them new again. Her recreations help me to remember why the pictures were so special to begin with.”