Taylor Yocom (b. 1992, Des Moines) received her BFA in Photography from the University of Iowa in 2015 and her MFA in Visual Art from Washington University in St. Louis in 2018, where she was an Olin Fellow. Her intermedia practice explores the pressures of the gender performativity of female niceness, conflating this phenomenon with tropes of performance. Her work has been featured in dozens of media outlets including Buzzfeed, Huffpost, and USA Today. She is a recipient of a Bustle Upstart Award and has exhibited, presented, and screened her work at universities and galleries across North America. Recently, she was in residence at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris.
She’s a beauty
“She’s a beauty,” the man says while pointing to a car, a boat, a mountain. These can be beautiful. Things without agency, without a gaze.
He flips through a pornographic magazine. It is titled “Lui,” – him. The models look back at him. This was made for him. His fantasy. Their gaze. His gaze. Elle est une beaute.
I am in Paris for a residency. I pass a book stand filled with copies of “Lui” and “Playboy” – these women staring back at me. I know this object wasn’t made for me. I am an elle. I buy it anyway.
I flip through the French pornographic magazine. I find the eyes – I am using them for a project. I carefully cut and rip the heads off. It feels violent, I feel wrong.
I flip through it again. The half-gone pages are flimsy. Buttocks and breasts and legs morph together. I know I am looking at a thing.
Their gaze is gone. The only one that exists is the viewer. The object is flattened, the subject ambiguous.
To view more of Taylor Yocom’s work please visit her website.