On Hollywood: Documenting women's dreams against the harsh reality of life
For her series On Hollywood, French photographer Lise Sarfati walked the streets of Los Angeles and the Bay Area to research women's identities and the construction of feminine types.
The artist is highly attuned to the ways in which her female subjects are attempting to construct their identities and how they choose to reveal their characters to those around them. The artist is interested in documenting the intersection between the created, fictional caricature of femininity and what is natural and self-evident.
On Hollywood includes photographs shot in and around Hollywood's urban stream over the course of 2009 and 2010. In these images, the sharp focus is on the dimension of the landscape in its most ordinary manifestations; empty sidewalks, cluttered storefronts, parking lots and cars.
Hollywood is at once an iconic American setting populated by women who believe in bygone realities, as well as a zone of the universal and mundane occupied by women living on the margins. Sarfati describes the women she photographs as "toys of strange and terrible fates they are aware of but which they never seem to achieve any control over".
The underlying theme of these pictures is thus, the way these women choose to project themselves and the tension between their illusions and life's actualities in modern-day Los Angeles.
Born in Oran, French Algeria, Sarfati grew up in Nice, France, graduating in Russian from the Sorbonne in 1979 with a thesis on Russian photography. In 1986, she became the official photographer for the Académie des Beaux-Arts. From 1989 to 1998, she lived in Russia, photographing decaying industrial sites and abandoned young people in Moscow, Norilsk and Vorkuta. Her first book, Acta Est, presents 43 of her Russian photographs and explains her imaginative appreciation of deterioration, change and beauty.