This volume presents award-winning Pennsylvania-based photographer Lydia Panas’ (born 1958) much-praised series of mesmerizing color portraits of reclining women and girls. In an interesting reversal of roles, the artist’s and models’ gazes are intertwined, incorporating the viewer as participant in an often uncomfortable connection. Critics and curators have praised the work for Panas’ artistic and technical mastery, and all have noted and examined the powerfully affecting gaze of her subjects. Panas notes: “While my subjects do in actuality turn their gaze towards me, it’s as if at times I turn the camera onto myself, both in the present and back in time.” In Sleeping Beauty, her subjects lie down, a metaphor for the position girls and women have been placed in historically. But they look out with self-awareness, in a way that implies a lack of complicity.
Lydia Panas: Sleeping Beauty
By Lydia Panas
Texts by Marina Chao, Maggie Jones, and Monae Mallory
About the Authors
Lydia Panas is a visual artist working in photography and video. Drawing on a combination of psychoanalysis and feminism, her work looks at identity and what lies below the surface, investigating questions of who we are and what we want to become. Exploring the roles of power and trust on both sides of the camera, she describes what it feels like to be a woman, a human, and the complex range of emotions we feel. Panas' work has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally. Her photographs are represented in public and private collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Palm Springs Art Museum, Allentown Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego, and the Sheldon Museum, among others. Two monographs of her earlier work have been published: Falling from Grace (Conveyor Arts, 2016) and The Mark of Abel (Kehrer Verlag, 2012), which was named a "best coffee table book" by the Daily Beast.
Marina Chao is a partner at Higher Pictures Generation in Brooklyn. She was previously assistant curator at the International Center of Photography where she organized the exhibition Multiply, Identify, Her (2018) and contributed to the publication Public, Private, Secret: On Photography and the Configuration of Self (Aperture and ICP, 2018). She was awarded a 2019 Curatorial Fellowship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for a project exploring the intersections between image, language, and technology. Prior to joining ICP, she was a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Maggie Jones is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, where she writes about subjects ranging from death rituals to sex, from forensic anthropology to gender and families. She has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and she was awarded a 2012 Neiman Fellowship at Harvard University. She teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
Monae Mallory is a poet, hairstylist, and makeup artist. A business owner by day and poet by night, she studied cosmetology and fashion design. Born in Baltimore, MD she now lives in Bethlehem, PA, where she owns and runs Artistry By Monae.