Pheromone Hotbox Reveals The Awe Of The Feminine Gaze (NSFW)

by Clementina Marini Clarelli

Photographer Amanda Charchian explores the female nude and the intimate process of photographing the female psyche.
In an Internet-driven world, female nudity is all too often mistaken for pornography. But Pheromone Hotbox, artist Amanda Charchian’s latest book, provides a refreshing exploration of the female nude and of the intimate process of photographing the female psyche.


Posing in beautiful natural settings, ranging from Morocco, to Iceland to Death Valley, the women immortalized in the nude by Charchian (artists themselves) become one with the background, yet do not fade into it. The unapologetic content of the photographs confronts post-feminist scenarios where the male gaze is not just excluded but non-existent, and where the female body appears liberated of observing and sexualizing eyes.


In an interview with Huffington Post the artist elaborates: "While the Venus Pudica or 'Modest Venus' in Greek sculpture covers herself up, I am interested in showing the liberated body." She adds: “One's nude body cannot convey a character it does not actually, for lack of a better word, embody."


“The name [Pheromone Hotbox] began with a bit of humor coming from the idea of "hotboxing" a car”, the artist tells Oyster Magazine. “I applied that idea to the immersive intimacy between my subject and I when we are creating these images. Because we were shooting nudes in public landscapes, there was usually a heightened sense of connectivity and closeness. Pheromones are signaling chemicals that trigger social responses and impact the behavior of recipients within the "hotbox".”


This idea of connectivity and closeness between photographer and model, between two women, was also the theme of the exhibition Pheromone Hotbox at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City, where Charchian showed her photographs alongside four other female artists: Aneta Bartos, Shae DeTar, Olivia Locher, and Marianna Rothen. The exhibition explored how the five young women create narratives by photographing other women in the nude, “confronting the notions of post-feminism and adressing post-selfie ideologies.” (Via Steven Kasher Gallery)


Through these artists, the woman-centric exhibition celebrated the female nude, not just as a body or a piece of flesh, but as an extension of the person and the woman to whom it belongs. The subjects in Charchian’s photographs, in fact, do not lose their identity when as lose their clothes, and it is through this lens that gallerist Steven Kasher referred to Charchian’s photographs as “an antidote to the Terry Richardson-esque style of demeaning women”.


Pheromone Hotbox (Hat & Beard Press, Los Angeles) is available here.

All photographs courtesy of Amanda Charchian