In her series Women which was exhibited in 1997, Despina Meimaroglou draws associations between images of women and commodities in a manner, which suggests how feminine identity is shaped, packaged and sold much in the same way as a product of mass consumption. The images, all digitally processed photographs, speak both about how the self-image of women is controlled and our perception of them manipulated to conceal harsher, social realities. The slogan “Skip the Fat” printed on the image of a Kellogg’s package is juxtaposed with the image of an aged, overweight woman to reveal the deception of advertising and the sense of self-defeat it imposes on us.
Women have been stripped of their identity and individuality and absorbed into the mechanisms of commodity culture. Cast as if products in an advertising campaign, the images in Women are as much a critique on women’s exploitation by consumerist culture as on the deceptive values that this culture propagates. Beneath the surface lustre of harmless, appealing pictures, the reality gets relentlessly harsh. For one has to look closer to notice that the texts printed on or juxtaposed with the images are excerpts of an English newspaper article on a female convict who in 1996, although pregnant and suffering from AIDS, was handcuffed to her prison’s hospital bed even while giving birth.