Medusa, from the series “Ricas y Famosas” 1999

A woman in a jewel-toned dress reclines on a bed with snake-like hair and outspread arms. In the background, the scene's reflection displays in the mirror.

Daniela Rossell, Medusa (Ricas y Famosas), 1999; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC; © 1999 Daniela Rossell, Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

Each work in Daniela Rossell’s “Ricas y Famosas” series is the product of a collaborative effort between artist and sitter. Before taking a photograph, Rossell toured the houses and interviewed her subjects, receiving input on the setting, clothing, and poses.

In Medusa, Rossell created two views of the sitter and her environment, both the actual image and the reflection in the mirror. In contrast to her snake-like hair and outspread arms, the sitter’s legs are tightly wrapped in fabric, not unlike the doll in the papoose to her left. The lines of the woman’s hair and body guide our eyes to the reflection in the mirror while the lines of the bedspread frame her.

Rossell’s series focuses on women in interiors. The subjects often seem to become another decoration or part of the space they inhabit. However, her purposefully ambiguous images are open to interpretation.

Describing her process, Rossell stated, “I like to play with people’s conceptions of what a photograph should be. The women figure out from magazines and television what they think a photographer should snap, and they start performing.”

National Museum of Women in the Arts