The Erotic Mirror: Four Female Photographers Turn Their Naked Eyes on Themselves | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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The Erotic Mirror: Four Female Photographers Turn Their Naked Eyes on Themselves

Last week, a quartet of easy-on-the-eyes young Eastern European women — Elle Muliarchyk, Yana Toyber, Aneta Bartos, and Martynka Wawrzyniak — celebrated a collaborative project, entitled "4 Sale," curated by Anne Huntington. The work, four photographic series and two videos, was a frank, playful, and occasionally enigmatic celebration of eroticism. While the style of each photographer differs wildly, the works are populated by the same cast of characters: the girls themselves, more often than not sans clothing.

Muliarchyk, best known for her guerrilla art made in high-end dressing rooms and her series of photos that glammed up Catholic statues, provided some of the most intriguing images. In "Volcano Lover," for instance, she captures Toyber, nude, in what might be an esoteric yoga pose; a trick of lighting makes it appear as if the young Ukrainian-born photographer and model is shooting flames from her nether regions. "Bad Boy" restages Eric Fischl's famous 1981 painting with two women, and "Late Night T.V.," a portrait of Bartos, topless and laughing, is both seductive and sinister.

Aneta Bartos herself contributed darkly sexual images in which the line between the erotic and the violent is often obscured. They combine the elegant production of fashion photography — Bartos is a regular contributor to Zoo magazine — with an undercurrent of danger. These photos could be stills from a pornographic film co-directed by David Lynch and Gregory Crewdson. As such they provided a nice counterbalance for Toyber's sneakily voyeuristic series, comprised of more playful and occasionally abstracted images of the girls, naked once again, taken underwater. And the exhibition was rounded out by Martynka Wawrzyniak, who owes an allegiance both to the vamping of pinup girls and straightforward commercial portraiture. In her photo series we see Elle, Yana, Aneta, and Martynka herself, wearing nothing but a vintage camera. Her accompanying video work features the girls messily applying lipstick well beyond the boundaries of lips.

With all this highbrow nudity, it's no surprise that Terry Richardson made an appearance at the opening reception for the show, held at the 8 Bond event space in Manhattan. Another purveyor of artistic erotica, Marilyn Minter, was in attendance, as was literary hoax James Frey. It may be easy to disregard "4 Sale" as a smartly publicized stunt from four well-connected artists who realize that attractive female nudes rarely go out of style. This would be a mistake. This is serious, well-crafted, yet approachable work that isn't afraid to handle sexuality with a mix of humor, drama, and the occasional dash of mysticism. We expect to be seeing much more of these young women in the near future — clothed or otherwise.

For images from the show click the slide show at left. Needless to say, there is nudity. A lot of nudity.