March 5 – June 1, 2022
Dramatic drapes, retro accoutrements, and hapless, faceless women: These are the recurring themes in Anonymous Women, a splashy visual escapade by award-winning photographer Patty Carroll. In what may seem like domestic upheavals, unidentified women either elegantly blend – and sometimes chaotically collide – with their environments. This collection (created between 2016-2022) on view at Galerie XII, plunges the viewer into vivid, lush, and elaborate atmospheres, each piece possessing its own interrelating color theme and stylistic flair – some with earthy, pastel hues of an old-fashioned design, others with candy-coated, psychedelic whirlwinds.
In Sunflower Girl, a 70’s looking room has apparently engulfed its faceless inhabitant in a succession of large, bursting sunflowers. Everything in the room, from the upholstery, drapes, wallpaper, and notorious bouquet painted by Van Gogh on the back wall, are in keeping with this bright orange floral theme – so much so that perhaps it had no choice but to literally manifest itself.
Bright greens and cardinal reds induce a good old, deranged holiday spirit in Green Beaned, in which the task of cooking up a traditional casserole, unfortunately, looks to be grandma’s Christmas recipe gone wrong. Our poor subject, whose head is concealed by paisley curtains, has been inundated by a mass of the green vegetables that cascade from a baking pan and mixing bowl, extending onto the adjoining table and recipe book. A tower of unopened cans and an array of poinsettias add to this peculiar saccharine display.
These private chambers seem to have an omnipresence: Perhaps it is really these rooms that play the leading role in such accounts, with stifled females merely cast as passive embellishments, their tenacity long surrendered to a mischievous force mightier than their own. Panther offers yet another example of this, in which a black-clad lady, atop a lime green couch, has permanently assumed the posture of surrounding statuettes of sleek, crouching panthers, displayed within a Tiki style lounge room. Consistent with the retro aesthetic, Tripping features a psychedelic assortment of bold, contrasting patterns found in black and white drapes and colorful paper airplanes, not to mention a bundle of luggage bags, exposing the artist’s sense of literal humor.
To complete the sensory experience, a sculptured, picket-fence scene dominates the floor of the main room, while a separate booth features a video installation of various skits on loop. These skits show women behind drapes, dancing along to theme music while numerous amusing scenarios – attempting to blindly pour tea into a teacup, and doing a poor job of it – ensue.
Overall, this is a playful and deliciously harmonious exhibit, one that we can imagine would have been a hoot to create. Carroll has managed to orchestrate elegance and chaos into a rich, satisfying symphony. While this collection may also be perceived as feminist commentary aimed at the domestic housewife, the artist has postulated that these works may be interpreted any way that the viewer wishes.
Cover image: Light at the End of the Tunnel; images courtesy of Galerie XII, photographed by the author.