In the POLISHED series I fetishize the secret of what I desire to see in a model by becoming the model myself. I wish to reverse the traditional arrangement of photographer and model to exchange the vulnerability the female model experiences as she is exposed to the camera, to that of the photographer or artist. I hope to change the logic of power between male and female, photographer and model by, in this case, making the male photographer the object of the viewer’s gaze. The removal of the genital area of the body from the image is what gives this project its name. This does many things, like destroying the print surface, censoring the body, and bringing to mind the battle for power as we see even in the battle for LGBTQ rights. My intention for this action was also to amplify the effect of the gaze on the body. By censoring the sexual identification of the body in this way, sexuality is revealed not repressed. I do this by rubbing the print in different ways. For example, on some images the marks make a new phallus, thus amplifying the figures sexuality, and on others the gesture swipes away the eyes of the figure, effacing the identity of the sitter and transforming a subject into an object. I think this reveals the unfamiliar and secret world that Freud addresses in his work “The Uncanny”. The unfamiliar is associated with the reversal of the social logic of gender and the power relationship between photographer and model.
Best’s practice of lens-based work approaches the intersection of desire and gender with curiosity, carefully interweaving ideas of gender fluidity, deviance from widely accepted codes of behavior, the power over one’s sexual desires, and connections to social assumptions of nature. The bodies in his work flow back and forth between uncanny interior and exterior spaces to create psychological narratives amid penetrative interventions into the printed image. The oblique images play with the logic of cultural definitions of gender by rearranging masculine and feminine characteristics of appearance. Best avoids the spectacle of pornography and offers complex investigations of the relationship between one’s appearance and the power to satisfy their desires.
Best holds an MFA degree from the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, and received a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation to attend the Santa Fe Art Institute Artist Residency. The artist resides in Dallas, Texas, and shows with Liliana Bloch Gallery.