Most people would agree that fashion photography is a different world – completely removed from the realities of everyday life – but to make that point in a clever and powerful way is pretty hard. Step forward Madrid-based artist Yolanda Dominguez, whose most recent piece recreated fashion magazine poses in normal situations. The results, particularly the public reactions, are funny, thought-provoking and revealing. We spoke to Yolanda about the work, feminism in art, and the creative scene in Spain.
Your new work Poses is excellent. Why did you decide to tackle the fashion industry in this way?
I tried to express what many women feel about women’s magazines and the image of women in the media – absurd, artificial, a hanger to wear dresses and bags, only concerned about being skinny, beautiful. We don’t identify with this type of woman – we are much more. I used the impossible poses to represent this type of woman and to show how absurd it is in a real context.
These artificial models are the only reference we have and many women want to be like them but this is not natural and is causing many disorders (eating, mental, behavioural).
On the other hand poses of the women are ridiculous – they seem dead, twisted, pulled. Why are men never put in these positions? They are always straight, successful, able and healthy. Perhaps because the photographers are men?
Was it a lot of fun doing it in the streets?
The streets are the new canvas for artists, a place where you can show your work to everyone. I always have fun and I enjoy my work, I think it is one of the most important reasons why I still do it.
I try to express deep questions (sometimes dramatic) but always with irony and humour. I feel that when you can laugh at something you can get rid of it.
How important is the element of unpredictability in your work?
The public activate the work with their intervention, I never know how things will come out. I just put the ingredients and the viewer decides what to do with theme – he or she is spectator and creator at the same time.
It’s like making a meal – the chef prepares it but once it’s on the table it’s the diners who have the control.
Gender is a prominent theme in your work, do you think it’s one that artists need to bring back into the cultural discourse?
Since the industrial revolution, artists have used art as social criticism as well, reacting to the world around them. Obviously works that can be hung on a wall and are beautiful and match the colour of the sofa sell better but it shows in the result – it is a soft art, soft and empty.
How is the creative scene in Spain at the moment?
Crises are opportunities for creativity. Now, making a work in a commercial format does not ensure the sale, so why not experiment? That’s how artists are thinking and also curators and galleries – they will have to adapt to new formats. And that’s good; art was stagnating.