Juliana Rico


By Juliana Rico

  • Photography, Juliana Rico.

About the Work/Artist Statement from the Artist

Shed Illusions documents the biological phenomenon of insomnia and its physical effects on the body. The photographic series examines daily hair loss accumulated over the course of roughly six months with insomnia. On a cold white background with individual clumps of hair in the center, each photograph acts as evidence and a portrait of an evening of sleeplessness.

“Our brain is mapping the world. Often that map is distorted, but it’s a map with constant immediate sensory input.”

  • E.O. Wilson, Biologist

Rocks, dried scabs, sticks, belly button lint; I collected it all. My curiosities as a child lead me to collect and study things that I deemed important. Analyzing the similarities and differences among a collection I gave order to objects reconciling their place in the world in relation to me. Throughout all of my works I mix a detached scientific approach with personal subject matter (including experience, gender, and biology of the body) to create a hybrid investigation. These two seemingly opposite qualities come together to create personal maps that investigate emotions felt, places encountered, and experiences lived.

The maps I make often explore self-identity and are based in performance for the camera (video, photographic or both). The pieces investigate the body in both surface and function and scrutinize social perceptions of gender and femininity. Formal beauty acts as both a visual strategy as well as an underlying theme of the work. There is a quiet confrontation between the use of seductive Modernist aesthetics to criticize different aspects of traditional and societal norms of beauty and body.

Exercise, sleep or lack thereof, body perception, these are not things that have a specific start and end, they are quotidian. I document the routine and everyday as performance, magnifying process, experience, emotions, or results. The nature of performance makes duration, representation, or effects of time large components of the work. Mixing subjectivity and science I create maps as a tool to understand how things work and position myself in the world.

Juliana Rico

I met up with Juliana Rico for a studio visit several months ago, and was profoundly moved by her photography series, Shed Illusions, due to its raw, visceral integrity. When Glenn and I started to develop Shame Wrapped in Repulsion, I instantly remembered my meeting with Juliana and how perfectly she and her work would fit into the context of this digital exhibition.

Rico examines the body out of context, and documents her physical transformation of hair loss due to genetics, stress, anxiety and forces outside of her control through photographs of clumps of hair pulled from the shower drain. The results are these wonderfully abstracted singularities of beauty, curiosity, shame, guilt, and repulsion. One can only imagine the internal struggle of trying to cope with this frenzied situation coupled with society’s scrutiny of outsiders to Western ideals of beauty and normalcy. Each portrait, distinguishes itself from the next by way of composition, juxtaposition, and character, but the series itself depicts the entirety of this intimate experience of loss, stigmatization, coping and reclamation.

Alyssa Arney