Recipient of multiple awards, most recently being Digital Camera Photographer of 2018, Elena Paraskeva is known for pushing the envelope with her surrealist commentary on pop culture through image. Her series, The Dilemmas holds up to this expectation. The purposeful use of bubblegum candy hues, juxtaposed with the harsh reality of eating disorders and the pristinely retouched imagery, results in a subtle and sterile fuck you to the fashion industry. The unreachable portrayal of women in magazines has long been the culprit of countless mental health concerns and pressures women and girls face every day.
The image with the model and a bird cage (above) is particularly striking. Paraskeva skilfully uses the "bird in a cage" expression to describe the situation. The subject’s head is caged as she gazes emotionlessly into space while attempting to feed herself a low calorie vegetable. However this is difficult when you are imprisoned. Meanwhile, the actual birds are free and standing on a giant steak, as if to taunt her with their liberty.
The obsession and constant thought of food builds. The model, though bound and gagged with a measuring tape, cannot shake her compulsion to donuts, sugar and carbs. The emptiness in her eyes as well as the crispness of the image itself, establishes a hyper real version of the classic case: the unattainable desire to have or to be whatever we are not.
By the end, the mania takes its toll on the subject. She is seen with her face down in a food scale with a pink plastic gun pointed at her head. There’s a stark contrast in this last photo with the confectionary hues and the very even, non-dramatic lighting in relation to the seriousness of a scene such as this. As surreal as these photographs may be, eating disorders are a reality for approximately 70 million people worldwide.
Elena Paraskeva is an international conceptual/fashion photographer currently residing in Cyprus.