OD Photo Prize 2023 | Shortlisted Artists
Jillian Freyer [b. 1989] holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from the Yale School of Art, where she has been awarded the John Ferguson Weir Award for overall excellence in the Yale School of Art. She has exhibited her photographs at the Aperture Foundation, The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, LTD Los Angeles, Back Gallery Project, and David Zwirner Gallery. Jillian’s work employs still and moving images to explore the notion of experience as touch and emotional and physical endurance performed through women’s bodies. She is interested in using the camera as a mediator to observe the tension and sensuality between her subjects.
Artist Statement | “My work explores themes of womanhood, platonic intimacy, and collective experiences. In this group of pictures, I am looking at how gestures and touch connect us. I began making these photos with my mother and two younger sisters to explore our relationships and investigate how intimacy, or lack thereof, can inform beliefs.
I see these women who populate my images as a community- entangled in the landscape, caring for one another, coming together in this partly fictionalized world. It touches on the reality that I want to exist in. However, still, there are moments of solitude, isolation, and reflection — a woman crying in a bed of flowers, and another woman is dragged through the grass. I began making these photographs to understand my experiences and how my ideas of myself and my body were formed. Beliefs are woven into our gestures, passed down from generation through communities. They lie amongst the quotidian, embedded into our very beings. Simple interactions we repeat and observe performed by our mothers, grandmothers, and sisters. I am interested in how these connections shape our worth, how the physical relationship between people holds importance, and how our bodies contain the physical weight of experiences. Touch can be caring or violent, depending on who is performing it. Our bodies hold onto memories and store them within us as we move through the world, slowly carving out a space in which we feel safe.
Texture and surface become influential in these photos in their ability to relay the conditions of the women. I am drawn to imperfections that become nuanced within traditional beauty, the stigma of aging, and the contrast of tension and vulnerability between my subjects. I use photography as a mediator to address the inheritance of beliefs, drawing from personal experience and making photos through witnessed and staged performances.” —
IMAGE DESCRIPTION | Participants hold Germaine’s arm to heal and help relieve her from the pain within her arm. Bruises are confused with shadows, as the light from the camera is mixed with daylight, confusing and intermingling surfaces. The individuals crowd Germaine, piling their limbs on the part of her body where she has pain. A meditation on the power of touch and connection.
All print enquiries: