During the first half of the 20th century, American artists began to turn to photography as a medium. In the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, California Pictorialism was particularly popular. Many of the photographers of this time were associated with camera clubs that championed this genre, such as the San Francisco-based California Camera Club and the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles. Stereotypically known for an interest in hazy landscapes, picturesque genre scenes and narrative portraits that mimicked Impressionist art, a certain number of these artists demonstrated a modernist influence, such as attention to urban and industrial subjects, abstract composition, and manipulation of images in the darkroom — all precedents to what we have come to understand today as contemporary photography.
Monica Orozco, a Los Angeles-based artist, in Photo – A – Day, explores photography‘s power to redefine place by fabricating compelling fantasies and illusions. These conceptual investigations share similarities with installation art and play with the quirkier intersections of art and life. This practice — pioneered by artists like Sandy Skoglund — is known as tableaux or directorial photography. Orozco clearly demonstrates a knack for storytelling through facial expressions and body language, her sense of style, and an extensive repertoire of convincing technical skills. Shot on location at 47329 Jadida, Marrakesh Country Club in Palm Desert, this new series of self-portraiture clearly proves Orozco‘s mastery. It‘s hard to be blasé when encountering her alter ego — deMonica — with her over-the-top psychodramas, and hard not to crack a smile or shake your head in disbelief as you realize you have known such characters yourself. Humor co-exists with anxiety, the banal with the neurotic. It is thecontrol of this balance that lies at the core of Orozco‘s work. From the conception of the project, to the logistics of collecting wigs and fashions, through long stretches of production, to the final staging and the shoot — nothing is left to chance. This tedium is not a deterrent for Orozco.
A freelance photographer since 2005, she has worked in the Aerospace industry for Boeing Satellite Systems as well as been active in celebrity/advertising photography assisting Matthew Rolston, whose clients include Estee Lauder and magazines such as Vanity Fair, Harper‘s Bazaar, Vogue and GQ. These incredibly diverse earlier jobs shed biographical light on the process, content and intensity of her work. From commercial photography Orozco has learned to meticulously craft the aura of perfection and the mastery of convincing illusions. The unrestrained deMonica creates for the viewer an open-ended scenario about the complexities of our
culture through the raucous facades of her installations and photographic images.