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Photographer Lois Cohen and stylist Indiana Roma Voss joined forces for the first time to create Local Angels, a joyful portrait series documenting Amsterdam’s underground eccentrics. Featuring various street cast characters, some real, others enhanced through Voss’ styling, the series celebrates the colourful individuals who wear their unique quirks on the outside.

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Lady Galore & Baby Galore (Local Angels)

While Local Angels captures those refusing to conform to societal standards, the duo’s subsequent series Metamorphosis casts its focus on the male gaze and society’s narrow representations of female beauty. Featuring recognisable female figures, from pop culture to religion, the series examines the prevailing ideals which have been imposed on women throughout history. Cohen explains, ‘With Metamorphosis, we wanted to break barriers, specifically surrounding female beauty. Within each image of the series we tried to touch upon one or more stereotypes.”

From Botticelli’s Venus to Betty Boop, Voss and Cohen’s contemporary reimagining of these iconic figures reveals the lack of diversity at the heart of the original representations. Cohen explains, “in the Western media, you almost never see a range of different skin tones among Disney princesses, a Muslim woman in a superhero context, or a fuller body associated with a classic image of a sex symbol… and why not?” 

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Calamity Barbie (Metamorphosis)
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Chico (Local Angels)
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Betty Boop (Metamorphosis)
“In the Western media, you almost never see a range of different skin tones among Disney princesses, a Muslim woman in a superhero context, or a fuller body associated with a classic image of a sex symbol… and why not?”
Lois Cohen
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Els (Local Angels)
“We wanted women who were iconic and recognizable so that our narrative would be understandable to a vast audience. We also wanted women whom we felt had been dealt a poor hand and had been historically misrepresented”
Lois Cohen
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Marilyn (Metamorphosis)

Through body size, ethnicity, pose or indeed, hair, the narrative of each character in Metamorphosis is cleverly subverted by the duo. One example is Marilyn, their depiction of Marilyn Monroe, whose public image came to embody the idea of the ‘sex symbol’. By depicting their version of Marilyn, seductively revealing copious amounts of immaculately groomed body hair, the duo push back on the concept of hairlessness being synonymous with sexual allure. To me, the hair works particularly well in this image because it looks really soft and subtle,” Voss says, “yet at the same time it is completely out there. It changes this image of Marilyn into a political statement.” 

Credits

Concept Lois Cohen & Indiana Roma Voss
Photography Lois Cohen
Styling Indiana Roma Voss
Interview Emma de Clercq

See the full story only in INFRINGE ISSUE #3 HERE

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