Not Through Any Sort of Vanity

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Not Through Any Sort Of Vanity, is a series of large-scale color portraits that the artist began while living in Chicago in 1991 and completed in Los Angeles in 1996. She photographed friends, colleagues and acquaintances wearing a shower cap or slumber cap in a frontal head and shoulders studio portrait. The subjects choose the cap, clothing, and discussed the effect of the background colors with the photographer. The subjects are of different ages, genders, and ethnicities. The beauty caps are all purchased from easily available sources such as K-Mart, Thrifty, and beauty supply shops.

Humor and the quirky inclusion of mass-produced but anachronistic objects are strategies that Kaucyila Brooke has frequently employed. While previous work engaged in the relationship between image, text and narrative, in this work she made a break from this approach and with a series of single photographs. Consistent with her interest in the social and historical construction of identity, the images suggest that there is no essence available through portraiture. Beyond the portrait conventions of pose, expression, light, the frame and so forth, these images indicate the potential for photographic masquerade to conceal its own subject.