Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty
British Journal of Photography
July 8, 2019
Vikky Alexander co-opts the visual language of consumerist culture to provoke a state of self-awareness in her viewers
“I still fall into the imaginative depths of the photograph,” says Vikky Alexander. The Canadian artist’s practice spans montage, sculpture, collage and installation, but photography remains her focus. “I love the glossy surface of the paper,” she continues. “It is still seductive to me.”
Alexander’s practice centres on exploring the mechanisms of display that influence society’s perception of beauty and desire, and the way in which they attribute meaning to things. The photograph exists as the ideal medium to aid this endeavour. “My work should make people self-aware about how they function in society, or how mechanisms of display attempt to influence them,” says Alexander. “But, in a fairly gentle way because I am doing the same thing. I am looking at a work and thinking ‘how am I supposed to perceive that?’.
Alexander’s first retrospective Extreme Beauty, on show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, explores the major themes that have preoccupied her work for over three decades. “Looking back can be difficult,” reflects Alexander, whose entry into photography coincided with the emergence of the Pictures Generation in 1980s New York – a loose group of artists reappropriating the visual language of consumer culture in order to expose the tactics at work. Alexander moved to the city straight out of university in 1979. Her contemporaries included Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger and Sherry Levine – she was the youngest and most unknown, but the relationships she had with these practitioners contributed greatly to the development of her practice.
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Heike’s Room, 2004
Inkjet print on canvas
53.75″ x 85.5″
© Vikky Alexander, collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, gift of Robert G. Woods and Petra Tode-Woods