Of het nu over een serie ‘hot dog-verkooppunten’ gaat of over ‘perfect lawns’, perfect geschoren grasperken in nabijheid van een net zo clean huis, of haar langdurige belangstelling voor ‘anonymus women’, Patty Carroll, 1946 USA, benadert haar onderwerpen met zin voor detail, maar vooral met gevoel voor humor.
Mag de islamtische vrouw haar vrouwelijke bevalligheid niet tonen tenzij thuis, de westerse wordt net zo goed bedolven onder attributen van diezelfde thuis waaronder zij als menselijk wezen verdwijnt.


Patty Carroll is a fine art photographer based in Chicago, Illinois who has been known for her use of highly intense, saturated color photographs since the 1970’s. Her most recent project, “Anonymous Women,” consists of a 3-part series of studio installations made for the camera, addressing women and their complicated relationships with domesticity.
By camouflaging the figure in drapery and/or domestic objects, Carroll creates a dark yet humorous game of hide-and-seek between her viewers and the Anonymous Woman. The exhibition at Catherine Couturier Gallery will feature large scale images from her latest narrative, “Demise,” where the woman becomes the victim of dramatic domestic disasters. Her activities, obsessions and objects overwhelm and consume her making space that surrounds her a site of unexpected tragedy. The scenes of her tragic end are loosely inspired by several sources including the game of Clue, where murder occurs in one of five rooms of the house: Dining Room, Kitchen, Hall, Conservatory, and Library.


In Patty Carroll’s photographic series, Anonymous Women, each densely patterned image focuses on a lone woman that is practically invisible. Each is merged, concealed, overwhelmed and seemingly taken over by her surroundings. Carroll grew up in the suburbs of Chicago at a time when the prevailing myth of suburban life was idealized and home depicted as a place of perfection and harmony. It was a time when a “woman’s place was in the home” and it was her job to create this upwardly mobile refuge characterized and affirmed by obsessively matched décor. Carroll has created a photographic world using the artifacts of that time to critique and satirize this stereotype of the feminine and the myth of happiness gained through claustrophobic perfectionism.


“I believe everyone has a hidden identity formed by personal traditions, memories, and ideas that are cloaked from the outer world. Cultivating these inner psychological, emotional and intellectual worlds is perhaps our greatest challenge as people, wherever we come from or wherever we live.”


“I don’t want to over-intellectualize my work. I’m one of those photographers who likes to run with an idea, not some-one who thinks of a theory first and then works from that. It’s not until much later, when I’m well into my work, that I realize, Oh, that’s what I’m doing! and understand how it may fit into my world view.”


“We lose perspective and become possessed by our material goods. We just have too much stuff! I’ve called these pictures ‘unportraits’ because they are not real portraits. They are more portraits of types or issues but not of people.”

While people have commented that her photographs of women in various phases of anonymity could be interpreted as  everything from commentaries on women’s fight for identity to digs at commercialism, Carroll is happy for viewers to read what they  want into her work. “I’m just happy to get a conversation started. I want viewers to reach their own conclusions.”


“My work references how women are seen in the world. I grew up with nuns as teachers, and unlike priests they were always encased in their habits, so you never knew who they were as individuals.”

In what is an ongoing project, Carroll finds the fabrics in thrift shops in her native Chicago, but was originally inspired by the “heavy drapery” she spotted in 90s Britain.


“Sometimes the home can be a place to hide in, or where you silently go about chores that nobody ever notices. It can be a place of contemplation and mystery, myth, or a familiar place to go, but also a place where personal psychodramas get played out.”


She earned a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois and in 1972, she graduated with a Master of Science in Photography from the Institute of Design at IIT, Chicago. Since receiving her MS in Photography, Carroll has been teaching photography at universities worldwide. She has been a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College and the Royal College of Art in London, among other schools. Carroll’s photography has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, The Art Institute in Chicago, White Box Museum in Beijing, and The Photographers Association in Ningbo, China.

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