Pressing Against Looking, 2019-2020

Gina Osterloh’s ongoing series of photographs Pressing Against Looking investigates questions of “looking,” how the practice and politics of looking is a form of “pressure” – instrumental in the formation of self and Other, as well as how a viewer may perceive difference.  Comprised of several ongoing series of photographs and steel plate text works, Pressing Against Looking emotively addresses both the mental formation of an image in tandem with the physical and conceptual legibility of skin.  

The photographs mark Gina Osterloh’s return to incorporating her own body, performing for the camera, activating large scale monochrome paper room environments. In the photographs, long poles press against the artist’s eyes, and in a portrait, the artist appears facing forward in classical Rembrandt lighting, her skin masked in black tape– amplifying notions of pressure, and the pleasure and pain of looking, through formal and performative elements.  The photographs directly activate the physical and psychological sites of the eyes and face, as zones holding a tremendous amount of pressure– the conceptual pressure of the self being compressed into the photographic frame– which in turn is a site of cultural pressure– as the act of looking presses a body into a paradigm of social constructs such as race and gender.