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The Female Gaze

At Art Basel, La Prairie partners with three Swiss artists to interpret the beauty of the gaze

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Swiss luxury skincare brand La Prairie opened an art exhibition exploring the beauty, the mystery, and the enduring timelessness of the gaze. La Prairie has selected three up-and-coming Swiss female photographers, all graduates of the esteemed Lausanne University of Art and Design (ECAL), a post-secondary educational institution known for promoting Swiss creativity around the world and ranked among the world’s top 10 universities of art. Daniela Droz, Namsa Leuba, and Senta Simond are the new guard of contemporary photography, each with her own unique approach. Their works embody an unmistakable Swiss aesthetic and, as women, they bring a singular perspective to the beauty and the power of the gaze.The exhibition, entitled “Eyes in Focus,” debuted at Art Basel in Basel in the La Prairie Pavilion in the Collectors Lounge.

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Daniela Droz

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Namsa Leuba

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Senta Simond

“We are very excited to partner with Daniela, Namsa, and Senta. Their pioneering works are in perfect harmony with La Prairie’s heritage of audacity. We firmly believe that it is essential to support and encourage young artists who are forward-thinking while remaining sensitive to the timelessness of art. As Swiss artists, their refined, minimal approach is completely in line with that of La Prairie’s aesthetic,” said Greg Prodromides, chief marketing officer of La Prairie. “In making the deliberate choice to work with female artists, we also pay homage to the inimitable quality of the female gaze, interpreted by the perspective of women themselves. These artists break the codes of their chosen medium, just as La Prairie continues to break the codes of luxury skincare with unexpected creations.”

There is the ‘male gaze,’ which we tend to associate with objectification, and the ‘female gaze,’ which is usually linked with introspection.

Each a wholly unique view of that most personal of outward observances, the three photographic installations speak to the life, the power and the intimate vantage point contained within the gaze.They reflect La Prairie’s latest breakthrough innovation, Skin Caviar Eye Lift and its ability to revive, raise, redefine for a gaze reawakened.

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LAURA In Senta Simond’s works conceived for La Prairie, the gaze serves as a structural element and as a tool to express a variety of emotions. This image presents a young woman with a downward stare which manages to avoid direct contact with the viewer, thus maintaining a strong inner presence.

In her series, Daniela Droz transforms photographs into mirrors, which reflect the viewer’s gaze back to themselves. In this way, the viewer is confronted with their own emotions rather than those emitted by a third party or inanimate object. The viewer becomes part of the art, giving her gaze a timeless quality. “For this project I decided to try to interrogate the viewer’s gaze and turn it back on her. I sought to accentuate the idea of a new approach to photography, which follows the principles of Constructivism or Bauhaus: with a new point of view, outside the generally accepted rules of perspective,” said Droz of the three abstract pieces transposed on reflective surfaces that she has produced for this collaboration.

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HITIATA This work represents the present moment. Time stands still as the viewer is confronted with the direct gaze of the woman.

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RESONANCES I In her series presented at Art Basel 2019, Daniela Droz uses the notion of shadow as a marker of the passing of time. The many layers of the image are created by projecting light onto a structure, built with window panes and mirrors, which is then photographed. Just as her works for La Prairie are mounted on actual mirrors, the works of Daniela Droz mirror the viewer as he is gazing at her images.

In Namsa Leuba’s pictorial work, she explores the expression of time through the image of the viewer’s own impression of it–through the testimony of their own experience. To achieve this, she brings to light, by the extension of the image between the black and white photographic technique and the colorful background frame, the expression of the present moment. This duality is a direct reflection of Leuba’s bicultural heritage. “In approaching this collaboration around the theme of ‘Eyes in Focus,’ I wanted to illustrate the nature of emotions hidden in us and that attempt to come through the veil that covers them,” said Leuba. She therefore contrasts the passage of the lived moment with memory through the abstract and colorful character of the work. Leuba has produced three colorframed images for the collaboration with La Prairie. For her series, Senta Simond has shot a series of portraits of closeups of young women. Her subjects are not professional models but women from her surroundings—authentic, natural, unaffected. The images will allow the viewers to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of the subject’s gaze as their eye travels over the portrait like a painting. “For this series, I play with the gaze of my subjects by photographing them in different emotional states, reflecting different postures and attitudes. There is the ‘male gaze,’ which we tend to associate with objectification, and the ‘female gaze,’ which is usually linked with introspection. I hope with these works, that viewers are able to find some affinity with ‘my gaze.’” For this series, Simond has selected several women and has shot them individually, emphasizing the intimacy between artist and subject through a mix of both black and white and color portraiture.

Each of the three photographic experiences is conceived by their respective creators as an immersive journey, one that takes the viewer into the revived, raised, redefined nature of the gaze.

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