JTF (just the facts): A total of 15 color photographs, framed in black and unmatted, and hung against grey walls in the main gallery space and the back office. All of the works are digital chromogenic prints, made in 2013 or 2014. 14 of the prints are sized 22×32, in editions of 8; the other print on view is sized 40×60, in an edition of 5. This is the photographer’s first solo show in New York. (Installation shots below.)
Comments/Context: It used to be that when we talked about “fashion” photography, we were implicitly talking about the clothes and the models – in the studio, on the catwalk, in the streets, out on location, and in increasingly elaborate staged settings where the looks (and aspirations) became wilder and more extreme over time. But given the expansion of Fashion Weeks in Paris, Milan, London, and New York in the past two decades, and the burgeoning theatrical spectacle that these industry-centric buying events have become, a sub-genre of fashion photography has emerged that is actively looking away from the models and toward the image-conscious extravaganza itself.
Dina Litovsky’s photographs from various Fashion Week shows (Alexander McQueen, Rodarte, Issey Miyake, Alexander Wang, La Perla, and others) show us virtually none of highly controlled looks that walked the runway. Instead she pulls back the curtain on the chaos going on backstage and peers outward at the peculiarities of the crowd of celebrities, watchers, attendees, and hangers on, walking a thin line between documentation and wry satire.
Litovsky’s backstage shots are a feverish brew of frantic intensity and dull boredom. Models are tugged, pulled, and prodded, with a handful of red lipstick roughly applied or hair yanked and styled with get-the-job-done ruthlessness. Once ready, they mill around like caged animals, being checked over one final time and waiting for their cues, alternately yawning and growling amid the throngs of onlookers. Out front, Litovsky hones in on the ridiculous air kisses, the Jimmy Choo handbag carefully held logo out, and the plastic smiles of designers meeting the public. A crowd shot reinforces the absurdity of the new digital reality – nearly every viewer has got a phone or camera out, capturing the scene for later sharing, blogging, and commenting. A playful grab of a passing rear end ultimately collapses the wall between the watchers and the watched, with a helmeted model and a headscarfed attendee intermingling. Indeed, everyone in this world is performing, even the security guard wearily checking out a gaggle of lingerie models.
Seen with a brash, often low angle flash, many of Litovsky’s pictures have a haunted intrusive glare, enhancing the over-the-top theatricality of the whole experience. Her photographs document a manic dash for exposure, on both sides of the catwalk.
Collector’s POV: The prints in this show are priced as follows. The 22×32 prints are priced at $2200 each, while the 40×60 print is $3500. Litovsky’s work has little secondary market history at this point, so gallery retail remains the best/only option for those collectors interested in following up.