Cara Phillips 

Liposuction Still Life, Singular Beauty 

Liposuction Still Life

About the artist

New-York based Cara Phillips works around the concept of beauty and its industrialisation, an issue she experienced herself in her youth as a child model. Her series Singular Beauty combines images of plastic surgery clinic interiors and still lives of instruments and products. What she finds most interesting is how the surrounding space is arranged to create an environment ideally conducive to the marketing of beauty. In Ultraviolet Beauties, humans become central to her work: as if plunged into a deep sleep, eyes shut, her subjects are scanned with UV light.
Cara Phillips is also involved in discovering and promoting new artists, notably through two online platforms which she co-founded: Women in Photography and Piece of Cake North America.


What was the trigger for your series Singular Beauty?
Before I came to photography my life was spent in the beauty business, first as a child model and later as a make-up artist in luxury department stores. But in my late twenties, I returned to school to complete my college studies and I found my way into Joel Sternfeld’s colour photography class. Joel encouraged his students to make work that resonated with them personally, but that also had a kind of social consciousness. Based on my past, the social issue that had most impacted my life was America’s obsession with physical perfection, and towards the end of my studies I began the project that would become Singular Beauty. Making Singular Beauty was a revelation for me: it allowed me to reconcile the personal and the intellectual in a two-dimensional object that was readable by others.

Most of these environments want to deliver a rather serious and clinical façade, and at the same time emphasize their appearance in a well-defined style. They are customized, one with a Lara Croft poster, another with a kitschy, Moorish painted wall all in golden filaments. You photograph waiting rooms, operating rooms, before-and-after rooms, tools, doctor’s ‘boob books’. Did marketing infiltrate every inch of these plastic surgery clinics? Has plastic surgery become a branch of the entertainment industry?
Absolutely. People make judgements on appearance, whether we like to admit it or not. And when selecting an aesthetic surgeon, it follows that the patient evaluates their skill as a cosmetic surgeon by the aesthetics of their office. So the spaces become a prologue to the final outcome, in which the patient will be remodelled into an improved design of themselves.

How did you scout them? And how were you welcomed by the people there?
In recent years all the major fashion and beauty magazines, even The New York Times, have regularly featured articles on cosmetic surgery. I was interested in following the journey a patient might take, so I would look through W, Vogue, etc., find the name of a surgeon and then email their info@dr... address. Almost everyone I contacted gave me access, and all of the doctors were very accommodating and often quite excited that I was shooting their office. One surgeon in California very enthusiastically took me into the recovery room to see his patient who was still unconscious and to see a liposuction in progress, to give me a sense of what he did everyday.

Another ongoing series of yours, Ultraviolet Beauties, consists of black and white UV close-up portraits. Do you consider the two series as somehow complementary?
Yes, they are both part of a larger body of work – in fact, I am working on a third chapter now. The UV portraits came out of my research for Singular Beauty. Many medi-spas and cosmetic dermatologists sell the treatment to show you your ‘future’, and then offer you a host of treatments to prevent that future from ever coming true. However, I am most interested in the way the UV technology, by allowing me to see underneath a person’s skin, questions the notion of inner versus outer beauty, and the standard of hyper-retouched beauty we now accept as reality.

Limited edition, numbered and signed. 

Selected shows and awards

Singular Beauty, Opera de Rouen, Rouen, France, 2013
On Beauty, Robert Morat Gallery, Hamburg, Allemagne, 2013
Singular Beauty, Station Independant Projects, New-York, USA 2013
Ultraviolet Family Album, Carrol House Gallery, Keene, USA, 2012
Portraits, Le Royal Monceau Raffles, Paris, 2011
New Photography, Camera Club of New York, New York, 2011
Proof, Catherine Edelman Galley, Chicago, 2010
American ReConstruction, Winkleman Gallery, New York, 2010
Ultraviolet Beauties, Scope, New York, 2010
2010 Photography Shortlist, International Festival of Fashion and Photography, Hyères, France, 2010
Hey Hot Shot, Jen Bekman Gallery, New York, 2009

Selected publications

Singular Beauty, Fw: Books, Amsterdam, 2012


& order

Cara Phillips 
Liposuction Still Life, Singular Beauty


Technical information

Pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta paper - limited edition, numbered and signed certificate.


32 x 40 cm, Edition of 100 250.00 €

By the same artist

Cara Phillips

By the same curator

ART LIGUE Opening with Jörg Colberg