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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lynn Goldsmith: In The Looking Glass

Lynn Goldsmith challenges identity and perception with a body of self-portraits that she has been creating, assembling and crafting for more than 10 years


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Celebrated photographer Lynn Goldsmith is best known for her rock-and-roll portraiture centered on the distinctive personalities behind the music. With her new book The Looking Glass, Goldsmith has instead chosen to concentrate on herself as the subject, weaving an elaborate fairy tale world from window displays that she has digitally remastered with composite elements. Many of those elements include herself as the model, superimposed over mannequin bodies to artfully explore issues of identity. Above: “Blame It On The Fragrance.”


Crystal Tears
Lynn Goldsmith is world-famous as a rock ’n’ roll photographer, but that’s just one of her identities. You might also know the Lynn Goldsmith who wrote and performed pop music with the likes of Sting and Steve Winwood in the 1980s. Or perhaps you know the Lynn Goldsmith who spent the last decade creating elaborate photographic composites of department store windows with her own face superimposed over that of the mannequins. This is the Lynn Goldsmith I spoke with for a preview of her upcoming book, The Looking Glass, a non sequitur only if you misread her rock ’n’ roll photography.

“It’s not really a departure at all,” explains Goldsmith. “I think my work has always been about identity and posing certain questions. When it came to celebrity work, my job in my mind was to come up with a package that reflected the music so there was an identity for this artist and what they were about as something that people could put their teeth into or identify with. Or it was about making them look like what their fans thought they looked like or what their fans would respond to.

“Whether it’s landscape or portraits,” says Goldsmith, “there’s always been some way for the photographer as artist to choose how they want to manifest an image, which in some way reflects how they feel about a certain person or place. The Looking Glass series is a continuation in my exploration of what’s real and what isn’t. Who am I, who are you, who are we, what’s the point?”

Goldsmith’s career as a music and celebrity portrait photographer prepared her in another way for her latest adventure. Because magazines and record labels in the 1980s weren’t interested in paying for makeup and hairstyling, Goldsmith cultivated those talents as well. It was simple, really: She just wanted her subjects to look good.
 
Goldsmith’s career as a music and celebrity portrait photographer prepared her in another way for her latest adventure. Because magazines and record labels in the 1980s weren’t interested in paying for makeup and hairstyling, Goldsmith cultivated those talents as well. It was simple, really: She just wanted her subjects to look good.
 
“I’m utilizing my skills as a hair and makeup person,” she says of The Looking Glass, “in terms of pointing out that there’s no such thing as fixed identity. I’m also entering the bodies of mannequins to emphasize the question about what’s beauty because the mannequin’s body has been used as an ideal form that women, and men, when they’re shopping are supposed to envision themselves in those clothes as that figure.”

 

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