Untitled No. 32 was made by Jen Davis in 2010, one of the newer pieces in a series of self-portraits attempting to communicate roles of beauty and identity, focusing on the body. Self-observation is central to Davis's work, which is featured in reGeneration 2: Tomorrow's Photographers Today, the second book in Aperture's series shining a spotlight on the next generation's rising stars. She is aware of the presence of the camera, and she often stares at it, but her expression always seems sad.Davis confronts the image of a body whose physical appearance is hard to bear. She assumes two roles: as subject and object, she is both observer and observed.The artist explains, "What interested me about the image was the way the body was emerging from the center of the frame and bed. It felt heavy to me due to the dark clothing, yet the image had an ethereal lightness. I liked this contrast and felt that it added drama to the image." Scrutinizing herself, while playing with the viewers' gaze, she invites us to enter her bedroom. We cannot remain indifferent to this young woman showing herself in all her vulnerability.
Jen Davis (born in Akron, Ohio, 1978) received her MFA in Photography from Yale University School of Art. She has had solo shows at Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art; Texas Woman's University Fine Arts Gallery, Denton; Schneider Gallery, Chicago; and at Photo Passage at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto. Her work has been shown in group shows in the U.S., Italy, and Germany, and is held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; the Musée d'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; and Michaelis School of Fine Arts, Cape Town, South Africa, among others.