Lee Price is a New York based artist whose depictions of women and food over the last 20 years have sought to understand and reflect the struggle of compulsion and desire. The majority of Price’s work are self-portraits, further addressing Lee’s own relationship to food as well as the ongoing societal issues of body image and perception. These highly realistic scenes openly contemplate the relationship between women and food and the often felt judgement that emanates from our modern image profiteering society.
In her 23 August 2011 interview with theotherjournal.com here, Lee had the following insights to share regarding her work and its reflection on compulsion and excess, a sign of compulsion:
“The settings are mainly bathtubs and beds. They are private spaces, spaces of solitude, and unusual places to find someone eating. The private space emphasizes the secrecy of compulsive behavior and the unusual settings emphasize its absurdity. The solitude and peace of the setting is a good juxtaposition to the frenetic, out-of-control feel of the woman’s actions.”
These “frentic, out of control” actions are depicted from a vantage point above the subject. This bird’s eye view is neither voyeuristic nor spiritual in nature, rather it is the view of the artist perceiving herself through her actions in relation to their setting. The artist, also being the subject, has a unique understanding of her own compulsion and through observing herself in the moment of compulsive behaviour is able to provide the viewer with a deeper understanding of her behaviour.
Price also wants to convey to her audience, that compulsiveness distracts from the present and from peacefulness which would otherwise be associated with the settings in her artwork. Normally quiet and peaceful surroundings such as the bath or bed are transformed into shameful and absurd depictions of avoidance, obsession and compulsive behaviour.
“I also want to get across the absurdity of this type of behavior. We convince ourselves that the momentary reprieve that we are creating will actually last a very, very long time, that it will wipe out whatever uncomfortable feelings we’re avoiding. But in reality, we’re prolonging and intensifying our suffering. For most of these works, you can’t see the women’s faces. It is reflective of the fact that there is shame in their actions.”