By employing look-alikes, women who share her general appearance, Ilona Szwarc, World Press Photo winner and most recently selected as Foam Talent 2016, is placing herself at once as the subject and the object in the photographs. She reaches for the language of performance art, staging actions and reenacting them for the camera while at the same beholding the gaze.
In this step by step process she is manipulating her own image through a proxy: her American doppelganger, an actress from Boston. These carefully staged photographs confuse the relationship between a portrait and a self-portrait. Through cinematic closeups of her painting and drawing on the model’s face, she first creates an uncanny portrait of an aged woman, then through abstract and colorful mark making she transforms her into a large woman. The series culminates with an androgynous, grotesque, saintly mask, a contemporary Vera Icon of her doppelganger.
In September 2015, Szwarc self-published a set of three artist books titled I am a woman and I feast on memory, which premiered at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1.