Why this rad artist is bringing '90s teen fashion spreads to life
Brooklyn-based multi-media artist Erica Magrey has a new online art project called Vistas, in which she explores “various gestures associated with femininity, sexuality, and positions of power”. Sound cool? You haven’t heard the best part!
For Vistas, Magrey dressed herself and other women up in outfits inspired by teen magazines from the ’80s and ’90s such as YM and Seventeen, and placed them in front of screens accessorized with symbols of femininity from that era (make-up, pens, cutting boards, clocks, cell phones etc) to create time-traveling tableaus that will take you right back to 25-35 years ago.
The project was born after Magrey’s father stumbled upon a bin of old teen magazines from her younger days, which were never thrown out. “I was blown away by how the images inside were intimately familiar, like I had pored over them hundreds of times,” Magrey said, in an interview with Jezebel. “So I think for each of us, there is this interesting blend of influences that we pick and choose from to produce this hybrid self. And I’m interested in how other women navigate that.”
To explore this issue, she enlisted a handful of adult female performers to pose with several different props—as if they were in a retro teen mag photo shoot—and created moving scrapbooks that feel like ’80s music videos, old-school fashion spreads and complex performance art all at once.
Check out some screen shots of the videos:
Of the tableaus, Magrey told Jezebel, “Each woman portrays an exaggerated version of herself, expressing both a desire for freedom from social expectations as well as the internalization of various behaviors, styles, and attitudes prescribed for her throughout her life.”
So, the project explores a complex dichotomy between the oppressive qualities of teen-girl magazines and the many ways they shaped girls into the strong, complicated, multi-faceted women they are today. These magazines may have been sending messages of submission and passivity to young girls, but Magrey masterfully turned their pages into an informative, eye-opening, and, ultimately, empowering work of art.
Check out the whole project, complete with hauntingly retro background music, here!
(Stills via Erica Magrey)