Three close-ups of a woman’s lower face, with lips in an O shape, hung on a gallery wall. She is wearing red lipstick.
© Suzy Lake, Beauty at a Proper Distance / In Song, 2001–2002
Three colour Fujitrans transparencies in lightboxes
134 × 99.37 × 3.81 cm (52.75 × 39.12 × 1.5 inches)
134 × 115.24 × 3.81 cm (52.75 × 45.37 × 1.5 inches)
134 × 99.37 × 3.81 cm (52.75 × 39.12 × 1.5 inches)

Suzy Lake began her art practice in 1968. Following the social and political unrest of the 1960s, she emigrated from Detroit, her birthplace, to Montréal and then to Toronto, where she currently lives and works. Lake was among the first female artists in Canada to adopt performance, video and photography to explore the politics of gender, the body and identity. In order to reveal constructions and restraints that have been built into our culture, she continues to address the relationship of the individual to societal forces.

Lake often experiences moments of otherness in a culture obsessed with celebrating youth as beauty. She uses popular advertising effects, such as glamour lighting, coloured gels and scale, to enhance her images. The close-up views of her own face in Beauty at a Proper Distance / In Song do not shy away from revealing her facial hair, skin creases and stained teeth. Instead, she is aggressive in her attempts to sell the features of an experienced life. Lake’s work questions the employment of marketing strategies to sell an image of maturity to an audience infatuated with youth.