In isolation since March 16, 2020, Maegan Hill-Carroll has created a series of photographs titled Touching Oranges from the confines of her home-based studio. The images juxtapose the human form—the artist’s own body—with the titular fruit in unexpected and uncomfortable ways. While food is typically touched only with clean hands, in Hill-Carroll’s series, her feet and hair—body parts that are often considered unsanitary—are pictured entangled with oranges. Colliding these disparate realms result in strange, intimate and playful images that use parts of the artist’s body as elements of her still life compositions. The titles of the photographs, containing words like clench, erect, squish and stroke, serve to emphasize the tactile relationship between the artist’s body and the fruit. The resulting discomfort for the viewer reveals the unspoken codes of conduct that prescribe what is socially acceptable for our bodies to do and touch.
It is not insignificant that this body of work, shot while the COVID-19 pandemic was at the forefront of the news cycle, would focus on oranges, a fruit traditionally revered as a high source of vitamin C. To this natural source of vitamins, the artist has added colourful vitamin pills, squashing the two together to create small-scale still lives from these objects that serve to nourish the body, perhaps offering some small measure of immunity during this period of isolation.
All works courtesy of the Artist and Wil Aballe Art Projects.