My work includes primarily painting and collage, often paired with found objects, and frequently peppered with religious Jewish motifs.
This recent body of work explores the intersection between fashion, beauty, fetishization and mass consumption. The piece, The September Issue, uses the September issue of Vogue as its focus, pulling apart the most anticipated issue each year to ask some critical questions of an industry of images and our role therein: Who fetishizes and consumes whom? Does the reader consume the images? The celebrities? The physical pages of the magazine? Does the editor of the magazine fetishize the images? The reader? I believe the answer is all of the above, and my work aims to deconstruct this complex relationship.
The Ten Commandments of the Fashion Industry
The Ten Commandments of the Fashion Industry takes a humorous and irreverent look at the so-called tenets of the fashion world. Specifically, it tackles issues of identity, ethnicity and aging, as found in advertisements from the September 2019 issue of Vogue –the most celebrated and encyclopedic issue of the year—and explores the iconography and subliminal messages that are hidden—and not so hidden—within its pages. It actively questions several century-old rules and standard practices of the industry, and asks whether they speak for the contemporary individual. Broader themes of assimilation and individuality are also explored. The largest work, Thou Shalt Be a Billboard Unto Me! , specifically examines the typographic logos of the major brands and holds up a mirror to see whether the reputations of the brands can stand on their own. In Thou Shalt Blow Dry! , the work asks if standard tenets of the industry, as seen through hair texture and ethnicity, truly speak for all of their adherents. Thou Shalt Never Age! tackles mixed messages of authenticity and aging. In Thou Shalt Wear False Lashes! , the work brings to light the inherent contradiction of realness and concealment, as found in hordes of cosmetic products.
Thou Shalt Be a Billboard Unto Me!, 2020
Arranged like a magazine spread, this work examines the names that make up the luxury fashion world. With a focus on the historic houses, it questions the uniqueness and economic value of such names. While generally cleanly drawn and betraying no evidence of the human hand, the artist has chosen here to reveal the labor and intensity involved in replicating such designs, hence casting doubt onto the distinctive nature of such work.
Thou Shalt Blow Dry! , 2020
This work studies the mandate of models in the fashion industry to have stick-straight blow dried hair, thus obliterating all curls and waves—essentially all marks of authenticity, especially as regards to ethnicity—among its worshippers. While in recent years, designers have made inroads into this, it still remains the dominant look of the runways.
Thou Shalt Never Age! , 2020
This work examines the seemingly endless array of “anti-aging” and “firming” messages that proliferate the skin care industry. Directed almost exclusively at women, these phrases are both symbolic of and enigmatic of the unrealistic ideals which pit one gender against another and break down harmony. The sheer abundance of these ads, as seen here, paint the wisdom and experience of age as a threat to youthful beauty and desirability.
Thou Shalt Wear False Lashes!, 2020
Like anti-aging masks, this work explores the contradictory message of enhancing one’s natural self while simultaneously using products that self-identify as fake. As the ad indicates, the buy-in to these mixed messages is an inherent contradiction. The work questions the value of masquerading behind “falsies” instead of revealing one’s true authenticity.
1. Jennifer Gersch, Thou Shalt Be a Billboard Unto Me! , 2020, (Mixed media on canvas), 24 x 30 inches
2. Jennifer Gersch, Thou Shalt Blow Dry! , 2020, (Mixed media on canvas board), 5 x 7 inches
3. Jennifer Gersch, Thou Shalt Never Age! , 2020, (Mixed media on canvas board), 5 x 7 inches
4.Jennifer Gersch, Thou Shalt Wear False Lashes! 2020, (Mixed media on canvas board), 5 x 7 inches