Alexa Meade and Sheila Vand have collaborated on a body of work that explores the fluidity of form in relation to time and space. By stripping the subject of depth and dimension, a displacement of identity ensues, demonstrating the power of context over content.
Meade’s signature style of painting portraits on the body is submerged in a canvas of milk, where Vand’s performance is dictated by the opposing forces of fixed shadows and fluid space. Together, the artists compose an expressive identity for each image, but as the milk interacts with the pre-arranged pose, a new identity is formed that must be constantly re-imagined and re-shaped in the moment. As the paint seeps away into the milk, Vand’s performance must continually shift to accommodate its new context and form while Meade’s photography must capture the ephemeral moments before they de-materialize. The result is an ever-evolving, time-based portrait that includes every layer of the process within each consecutive frame. Each new visual identity is a product of the versions that came before.
The surface of the milk intersects Vand’s body at an uneven and unusual plane, creating a sense of movement and depth beneath her compressed form. This play on dimensionality in the picture plane evokes an optical illusion that activates the viewer’s experience by challenging their common perceptions. The identifiable becomes ineffable, giving the flat photography of the painted three-dimensional space an unsettling tone. By blending the borders between the subject and its surroundings, identity is muted and we’re left with the distilled nuances that shape the space.