Singular Beauty: Photographing Cosmetic Surgery Clinics
As the adage goes, document what you know. Cara Phillips has never gone under the knife of a plastic surgeon, but she has photographed dozens of plastic surgery rooms around the country — all under the glare of florescent surgery lights. A former child model, Phillips chose photography as a way to turn her own lens on an industry she felt objectified women — and to battle her own body image demons. The result is Singular Beauty, a book of haunting portraits of the insides of cosmetic surgery offices and their promise of a better you.
What drew you to document the beauty industry?
Before I became a photographer, I spent most of my life in the beauty business, first as a child model and later as makeup artist. From a very early age, I learned that being beautiful was both valuable and required of women. These experiences left me with some serious body-image issues. So the decision to focus my camera on beauty started off as a personal exploration, but as the project progressed, my focus shifted to the larger cultural issues of aging, desire, and physical perfection. The cosmetic surgery industry is the ultimate expression of the relentless American pursuit of youth and beauty.
In the new book, Singular Beauty, photographer Cara Phillips takes viewers into the heart of what she calls the “industrial beauty complex.”
“Cosmetic surgery is really kind of the ultimate expression of beauty and I wanted to go into the belly of the beast,” she says…
Wealthy and celebrity clients have undoubtedly visited her shooting locations, but for Phillips the project is about the promise of perfection, and whether having the ability to suck fat out of someone means that we should.
More photos @ Raw File.
The book is short-listed for the Aperture PhotoBook Review/Paris Photo 2012 First book Photo Book Awards
Photographer: Cara Phillips
Orange Laser Machine, Washington DC, 2008 — Cara Phillips
Sunday 11am at the NY Art Book Fair — Cara Phillips book signing:
CARA PHILLIPS - SINGULAR BEAUTY
Beauty stalks us with a condescending eye. From television screens to magazines, shop windows to billboards, there is hardly a face or figure that hasn’t been trimmed, polished, or reinvented to beleaguer us with an increasingly unattainable paradigm of physical beauty. Here Cara Phillips explores the reassuring environments and ominous implements of cosmetic surgery. The book provides a voyeuristic view into the pristine temples of physical transformation while simultaneously offering an insightful critique of our culture of narcissism.