Parker Day's lurid colours and grotesque characters elevate identity and fantasy (NSFW)

Date
17 November 2017
Reading Time
3 minute read

American photographer Parker Day’s work caught our eye for obvious reasons. Her combination of bright colours, glitter, provocative poses and unusual props creates a visual loudness that is almost impossible to overlook. Through costuming and make up, her characters reflect an elevated sense of identity and push cultural archetypes to their extremes. Having studied at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, she has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions as well releasing her own book Icons and shooting a cover for the most recent Polyester Zine.

Currently based in Los Angeles, where she moved three years ago with her fiancé and their “pile of cats”, Parker doesn’t have some “great story” of becoming a photographer, instead she describes how it was always there – “my mom took tons of film photos of me as a kid which piqued my interest and led to the disposable cameras I’d beg her for.” It was during high school, however that, “it dawned on me I could make a happy life out of it. I love the connection between two people that a camera allows and the play, of course,” she explains.

Parker’s style is the result of being completely honest with herself about what she values. She explains how “I used to think I needed so many things I didn’t have in order to be successful – high-end equipment, agency models, new designer clothes, a top notch creative team – but those were all obstacles I had invented, so I recognised that and released that way of thinking." Instead, now she creates the environments and characters she envisions, shooting almost exclusively on film with no retouching after scanning her negatives. This genuine process of fabrication allows Parker to indulge in elaborate narratives: “In photographing and being photographed, a fantasy is created, but at the same time feels (maybe is?) real. I’m drawn to that tension between “reality” and fantasy.”

“Pop Rocks for your eyeballs,” is how Parker describes her photography. An apt description as lurid colours alongside grotesque subject matters crop up again and again in her images, something she credits to her pre-teen inspirations which she still draws from. Underground comic books, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, David LaChapelle and existential philosophy all play their role, however, “Renaissance art has really been doing it for me lately. I just went to the Louvre for the first time which blew my mind,” she tells us.

Her current series Possession – which is still in progress – echoes Renaissance art in its posed subjects lounging among swathes of fabric. The series expresses the idea that, “your body is the only thing you truly possess”. For each image, Parker focuses on (usually) a single word and questions what it means to own a body, both in terms of the metaphysical and corporeal. For example, the image entitled flesh sees the nude body of a woman covered in what appears to ham and brandishing a meat clever. The series will eventually stand at 46 images, a number that reflects the 46 chromosomes which dictate, physically, what the human body is. Possession is due to be completed in spring 2018 so keep your eyes peeled – we know we will be.

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Air

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Blood

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Bondage

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Decay

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Fragile

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Fur

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Filth

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Heat

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Home

Above

Parker Day: Possession, I can be your angel or your devil

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Innocence

Above

Parker Day: Possession, Juicy

Share Article

About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.