Art review: Simone Lueck at Kopeikin Gallery


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For her series, “The Once and Future Queens” at Kopeikin Gallery, photographer Simone Lueck placed an ad on Craigslist looking for older women who wanted to pose as glamorous movie stars. The images resulting from these collaborations are sometimes humorous, even campy, but ultimately probe the complex intersections of self-image, media and gender.

In “Mara as Brigitte Bardot,” a confident, mature woman strikes a kittenish pose in the bath. “Fabie in the living room” channels Joan Collins in “Dynasty”: a glittering, tough-as-nails matriarch lying on a fur coat against a backdrop of vertical blinds. Other images evoke older archetypes — the femme fatale, the sexy librarian.


Cindy Sherman casts a long shadow here, but where her self-fashioning was utterly buttoned up, Lueck lets the seams between fantasy and reality hang out. “Francine in her bedroom” depicts a woman in a fur-trimmed satin dress sitting in what looks like Grandma’s room, inelegantly cluttered with the memorabilia of a lifetime. But why can’t Grandma be glamorous? In Hollywood, men become more “distinguished” with age, but women (with few exceptions) become crabby crones or comic relief. Lueck’s photographs are most powerful when the discord between subject and pose reveals how our ideas of glamorous femininity are tied to youth. The images document older women’s failure to fulfill these media ideals, but they also testify to the defiant queens that live on in all of us.

-- Sharon Mizota

Kopeikin Gallery, 2766 S. La Cienega Ave., Culver City, (310) 559-0800, through October 23. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Images: ‘Mara as Brigitte Bardot’ (top) and ‘Fabie in her living room.’ Courtesy Kopeikin Gallery.