Photographer and filmmaker Nadia Lee Cohen has published an unnerving film and series of images titled A Guide to Indulgence, exploring ideas of beauty and perfection. It stars a creepy group of rubber-faced ladies in opulent surroundings, seductively doing housework and attending dinner parties, all the while staring ominously into the camera. Dark-humoured and sadistically surreal, the film paints an extreme picture of glamour.
“The constant pressure faced in striving for perfection is so familiar in the world we inhabit,” Nadia says. “In response to homogenous ideals of beauty I wanted to create a satirical world in which the female inhabitants have pushed their appearances into cartoonish, melodramatic and extreme representations of femininity; yet are still looking to improve themselves even further.”
Lavish set design by Victoria H Tam gives the film its cinematic and bizarre quality. It is richly dressed and colour-coordinated to intricate detail, from the pink boudoir with its velvet headboard and frilly pillow cases, to the green dining room full of grotesque food and satin-draped models. Soki Mak was stylist on the shoot, with hair and wigs by Sami Knight and make-up by Beau Nelson. The film was co-produced by Alex Roth.
The series and film, soundtracked by La Femme, dances the line between menacing and comical, aiming to depict perfection as ridiculous. “[It] hopefully subtly exposes the cracks beneath the surface,” Nadia says. The music, the “darting eyes” beneath the masks and the subtle word play “puncture an environment that unless scrutinised appears entirely perfect”.
Watch the film on Nowness here.
- Helen Eunhwa Oh’s vivid illustrations draw the eccentricities from everyday life
- Diane Deschenaux’s abstract images explore Switzerland's farming industry
- Is postgraduate study right for you? A handy guide to help you decide
- Jan Novák’s conceptual typefaces and identities are both functional and clear
- Parisian studio Akatre on their music video for Grand Yellow
- Max Baitinger’s comic Birgit illustrates the ballsy decision to quit your job
- Alex Norris’ hilarious three-panelled webcomics are universally appealing
- Pigalle, Ill-Studio and Nike have redesigned the Paris Duperré basketball court
- Leipzig graphic design studio Lamm & Kirch on their shared ethos
- Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger on how to stand out
- From Lemon Twigs to Laura Marling: Hollie Fernando’s painterly photography folio
- Why materials matter: Seetal Solanki on the Grenfell Tower tragedy