There is something powerful in the simplicity ofc, a collaborative show by photographer Corinne de San Jose and artist Christina Dy. Sixteen small light boxes, each measuring about 10 inches high, hang as a grid on 20Square’s main wall. Each one carries a photograph, printed on cloth, of women’s torsos taken from behind. Dainty patterns have been embroidered onto the sepia-toned photos, branding the bodies with wispy floral scribbles. The color of the gallery’s walls echo the dull golden hue given off by each piece.
Arranged as they are, the pieces remind me of old photographs spread out on flea market tabletops, images taken when the thought of smiling for pictures had never been heard of. The subjects of those portraits from long ago will forever remain anonymous, their individual identities lost through time. It’s the same for these women who posed for Corinne and CD. The lacy markings may beautify, but still give us no clue to who they are.
The show, as evidenced by the title, actually explores what makes a woman beautiful, especially given society’s preoccupation with preserving youth. By baring just their backs, each woman is indiscernible from the next, even as they lay their imperfections out for all to see. The embroidered embellishments are meant to add a layer of femininity, bestowing an allure that, unlike physical beauty, will not fade with time.