Laura Koolen (b.1995, the Netherlands) is a Dutch photographer who uses staged photography to challenge social taboos and delve into human frailty. In her graduation project ‘Perfection’, she explores the unrealistic ideal of beauty in society driven by perfection.
The series contains a combination of studio portraits, still lifes and surreal urban landscapes which together find harmony in Koolen’s apply of pastel colours, painterly lighting, formalist composition and styling - associable with fashion and beauty editorials.
Working in a studio provides Koolen with the opportunity to stage her own fantasies and blur the boundary between real and unreal, leaving her photographs submerged with an uncanny tension. The message: a quest for perfections will inevitably result in a lack of authenticity.
Koolen portrays people who look different from the models as propagated in the mainstream fashion media. But she brings their deviating complexions – due to alopecia, cheiloschisis, albinism and vitiligo – into the beauty spotlight, questioning our definition of ‘perfection’.
‘Perfection’ can be seen during the occasion of Photo Festival Leiden during summer 2020.