Molly Matalon

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In The Morning and Amazing
Through photography I examine the distance between perception and reality, which is a fundamental facet of the medium. I pull from a coded language, informed by the genre of romance to project my desires onto my subjects. These photographs are the manifestation of a power play between me and men who have entered my life at various points, be it as a lover, acquaintance, friend, or collaborator. I use the viewer’s expectations about photographs to make the subjects appear as if they are something they may not be. Through photographing men in this way, I have repositioned myself to be on top of a gendered power dynamic. In The Morning and Amazing draws on a common perception that associates sites in the domestic sphere — beds, couches, kitchens, and the boudoir — with the feminine, but reorganizes those spaces to feature male subjects. In my photographic practice I come to occupy those spaces with men, and exert a degree of control and power I have not found in my other entanglements with them, romantic or otherwise. I use familiar aspects of the domestic space as tools or props in the fantasy I’m constructing. In turn, these objects take on sensual or erotic valances. These still-lifes are fleshy, in various states of consumption, and speak to the moments in, before, during, and after sex. In my romantic novel, they are the punctuation. In this world men look at me the way I want to be looked at. The work is diaristic insofar as I’m manifesting my own desire for the viewer; it is perverted insofar as I’m eroticizing men that I know, men who I often want to sleep with, but who, in the normal course of our relationships, do not want to sleep with me. The project turns on the crux of photography: being allowed to fix an instant or encounter permanently, but doing so at the remove of a voyeur, through the mediation of my own projections and fantasies. In this work I look inward toward my own sexuality and outward to examine feminine sexuality more generally. I explore my curiosity to control men and tap into my fascination with being looked at by them. This way of understanding myself helps me to better comprehend what female desire looks like on a broad spectrum. To a great extent, women’s desires (at least as represented in the vernacular of erotic imagery) have been predetermined and prescribed by men, whether through media, religion, or familial structure. Often times, the desires of women already exist pre-packaged (whether it’s a romance novel cover, the romanticization of a working-class laborer, or a suit and tie) and leave little room for self discovery as a woman. I’m curious how constructed images can become an access point to my own desires, and develop a candid representation of women’s desire more generally.

Molly Matalon, born in 1991, is a photographer from South Florida. She received her BFA in photography from The School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has published two monographs with VUU Studio, Olive Juice and 2013-2014, both are available worldwide. Her work, —-which deals with desire, idealization, and power dynamics—- has been exhibited in The United States and internationally. Matalon currently lives in Los Angeles working as a photographer.

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