Parker Day finds prettiness and perfection boring. The photographer's captivating portrait series Icons
, which will be published in a monograph next year, staunchly rejects both of these tired concepts.
Shot exclusively on film and completely unretouched, the images examine the mutability of identity with a sort of childish glee. Day toys with the ways in which people define themselves: Her subjects, many of whom she finds online through their social media accounts, are often dressed up in eye-catching costumes — some of which they bring themselves — and given a cheeky prop to play with, such as a loaf of Wonder Bread or a wax dildo.
Day uses bright, flat colors and a bold aesthetic distilled from the many comic books she read as a kid. The images are infused with unabashed sexuality and playfully disrupt traditional definitions of masculine and feminine. Speaking to Refinery29 from her home in Los Angeles, she discussed the rich sources of inspiration for her project, and how to get people to let go.
Day's work is featured in Represent: 29 Women We Admire
, a photo exhibit presented by Refinery29 on display at this year's Photoville
, which runs September 21 through 25. Photoville
is the largest annual photo event in New York built from repurposed shipping containers, combining photo exhibitions, outdoor photo installations, talks, workshops, and nighttime multimedia events in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It is free and open to the public. Ahead, a conversation with Day and a selection of her Icons portraits.