28 April 2014

Most Important Ugly: Opening Reception

Thank you everyone for coming out! So many people have emailed bummed they couldn't make it / wondering if it will be a moving exhibition. We haven't thought about taking it elsewhere yet (cart before horse) but it'll be at American Two Shot for 3 months, about, so those who couldn't swing it have time to visit. To those who did come by -- I love you very much. Thank you for sharing the night with me.

Here are all the photos from the opening that Tink took for us. They're also on Facebook. If you took any at the show please tag it with #mostimportantugly on twitter/tumblr/instagram so we can check it out! We would love to see them.

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Tayler & I with our headlining muse Indigo, who came in her full lady vengeance makeup (I love this picture she took of herself).

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It is nigh impossible to get all my favorite people in the same room together but this picture is proof it is possible!!!

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Shot before the store got way crowded (but in a good way).

The Rookie crew came out also, and Shinji, and so many other people who are bright stars in my universe. I love you all very much.

Thanks to Paper Magazine for the shoutout on the show also -- ugliest art opening of the week, indeed.

Honestly I feel like a broken record saying thank you over and over again but I really am just so grateful. I'll talk more in depth about the show itself and the process that went into it at a later time. For now? I've got a lot of homework to do.

22 April 2014

Most Important Ugly

April 25, 2014 ­ July 25, 2014 American Two Shot
135 Grand street, NYC Opening Reception: April 25th, 6:00­-9:00pm
Hello friends and friendly strangers –
If you know me at all, you know I live and breathe both makeup and memories – the stories that lipstick can tell you and the people who wear them help me wake up in the morning. Call it shallow or call it survival. I’d consider it more the latter and it’s the heart of Most Important Ugly.
What exactly should you expect? In essence, it’s a series of 13 portraits that negotiate the sitter’s stories of alienation and presentation, memories and disremembering. In order to sit for their photo to be taken, I asked each muse
a series of questions about shame, safety, power, family and beauty. This series of questions is called “Therapy Sessions in Sephora,” a reference to the place where I came up with the questions and the place where the ideas for this project began to unfold.
This project discusses anxiety and queer marginalization, revealing the monsters that are hidden inside of us when we are taught what we are is not enough, or is too much, or that it shouldn’t exist at all. It is a presentation of the resistance of marginalized people and how makeup can bring out the best in you: it’s just that the best is not always what is expected, or the most beautiful, or the most kind. Most Important Ugly tells the story of Monster Culture and the everyday heroes that it breeds. The heroes are my friends in the queer community, my readers, our friends. Non­binary beauties, trans friends, queer and questioning people we know and love all came together to sit for this project and it is their stories that we have the honor to share in these photographs. Gertrude Stein once wrote: “Give me new face new faces new faces I have seen the old ones.” This is our response to this idea of a beauty culture where we do not belong.
There are 13 portraits in the installation. There will also be a Limited Edition zine (Edition of 13 copies) detailing our process and monster culture, and it will include the original questions asked of each sitter. That way, you can learn what your Most Important Ugly is, too.
Much love,

15 April 2014

The Prada Problem

JumpFromPaper_Tayler Arabelle_choies_1

Tayler and I finally wrapped up the final photos for our Most Important Ugly photo project and hopped right into shooting my babe Jilly (photos of her on Tayler's blog) and also these cute bags I've gotten recently. This will be the last time we have studio space together until after the summer which is really weird! We've been shooting almost every weekend for six or seven months now and almost always around this very strict theme using this very specific process. So finally working on stuff outside rules we've set for ourselves was a strange experience. Tayler jumped right into it and built this amazing set and I was almost at a loss as to what to do with Jilly's makeup, since I'm so used to interrogating people and building a history based on their stories. To not have that story and not reference any specific look like I sometimes do (recreating McGrath for Galliano, 5ever) - it was really exciting but also really intimidating.


I think into things all of the time, half probably because I'm eternally trying to justify my interests as having value and the other half because I want to explore that value endlessly. But really, even though I love makeup and love how it connects people, sometimes you just want simple looks that look good. I didn't build on any references, I just went with colors I thought would look nice. Jilly has perfect skin and she looks good in everything so it was really easy and fun. Almost too much fun: I had to give my permission to keep it really simple. The day before (or after? time is weird) I did the exact opposite and I had to give my permission to go all out and I spent a very long time doing detail work and violent physical labor with glitter.

Hat: DIY Glasses: Givenchy Dress: Choies*Strawberry Bag: Tayler's Egg Bag: Luna from the MoonShoes: ASOS. Eyeshadow: Urban Decay Electric PaletteLipstick: YSL Le Orange* Tayler's Bag: Jump from Paper*

Anyway. So I copped this Prada knockoff. Sorry Prada. I worship the ground you work on and I talk about knockoffs quite consistently! There was just no way in hell I could ever afford the real thing, Prada doesn't really do Archive sales in the style of CDG so there was no point in even waiting a million years. I settled and bought the knockoff instead -- laughing at the minor differences all the while (documented in my Prada tag on tumblr, to my own amusement and no one else's, because I have a sad sense of humor). I did buy Authentic Prada sunglasses though so like, she still is getting my money in some capacity? To assuage the guilt I feel. I was going to buy the bra that goes on top of it, but even the non-embellished version costs about $1200 and I would rather make it myself with vintage brooches and you know, pay rent and student loans and stuff. I'm sure Miuccia doesn't mind too much.


I don't even know why I am apologizing to the internet when we are all pretty complicit in knockoff corporate culture. I think it's probably because I think about class and knockoffs all the time and haven't purchased anything in months besides authentic designer and now I feel weird class shame like I've reverted.  This is the kind of shame that is set up in us and I'm not sure it's entirely a bad or good thing. It's just a thing. I'm thinking a lot about feelings about feelings lately and how you don't really need them. No feeling is final, right? And you don't need to have feelings about feelings. Once you realize this you become free in a lot of ways. Freedom doesn't make you a better person though, and I think we're supposed to want to be better people. Better over freedom? You can aspire for both, of course. But I'm not sure you can get them at once all the time, particularly in the context of consumerism. There is always guilt to fall somewhere, usually it's on the consumer. Especially the poor consumer. Bootstraps mentality and all that jazz -- if you work harder you'll get what you deserve, what you work for, rise. Of course, that's not what really happens. Luck and privilege change the game and you don't so much 'get' a job as are given one. This is where the real conversation begins. But we're still told otherwise, and told if you don't buy the Original you're the bad one when you certainly weren't the person who made the fake to begin with. You're less than. You try to work off the guilt when it shouldn't be yours to deal with in the first place. Do you know what I mean? Feel free to disagree.

Anyway. At the end of the day it's a cute fucking "fake" dress. I wore it outside today with "real" Prada.
Nobody knew the difference.

Photos by Tayler as usual.

05 April 2014

Most Important Ugly

I've been working on a photo series with Tayler for about six months now and it's finally done. Please join us for the opening of our photo exhibition at American Two Shot! There will be drinks and hot babes and general excellence. All ages (obvi the bar will not be, sorry young ones). Please come. Here's the facebook event for more info.