All the Queen's Men
Naida Osline: All the Queen's Men presents two separate, but related, bodies of photo-based work from the artist's residency at Grand Central Art Center from November 2011 through January 2012.
The two series consists of formal portraits of subjects who are photographed in the studio against a neutral backdrop, mostly members of the Santa Ana community. One series models are middle-aged men; the other of women and men dressed in drag. Each series bring up ideas about identity, power, representation, gender, fame, beauty, aging and fashion.
Images from the "Royalty" series include drag queen and drag kings. They are portraits of individuals who regularly perform, or occasionally dress in drag, and are presented in their own makeup and clothing. The straightforward and beautiful portraits challenge the rigid gender lines created and fostered in our current culture. The notion of a self-appointed king or queen explores concepts of privilege, hierarchy and self-empowerment.
Images from the "Men" series are a continuation of a body of work the artist began in 2010, making use of one prop on an unclothed middle-aged male model. These are not intended as portraits of individuals, but rather as iconic images. The props are not objects of value and tell the viewer nothing about the subject, location or time period. Rather, they suggest that the subject may hold a position of power or status such as a king, warrior, shaman or dictator. The images have a kinship sensibility with portrait paintings of the past that depict individuals of power and economic wealth. They develop connection to the fairy-tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes," a story that has served as a cross-cultural metaphor for collective denial and hollow power for decades - resonating in an era of personality cults, entertainment icons, and political personalities.