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In this, a group of early staged self-portraits by Suzy Lake called "Co-Ed Magazine" (1973), the artist invents a young woman who, like many young women then and now, is bewitched by the marvelous changes that a different hairstyle can impart on her features. Lake strips this woman's face of much of its character, personality and animation by plastering it with heavy white makeup. The masklike appearance that results creates a theatrical falsity, giving the photos an overriding sense of make-believe, much like the work of onetime Buffalonian Cindy Sherman.

The treatment of the hair is the clincher in this little mocking drama of female vanity and self-regard. In each case, the hair looks to be cut out and pasted on to a waiting head, completely upsetting the photographic illusion that this may be a real -- if very pasty-faced -- girl with actual hair styled in the latest idiotic fashion.

Lake presents what is basically paste-on doll's hair, a sure signal that the young woman's absurd self-image is based on an ongoing delusion about beauty that she has gathered from reading too many teen mags and watching too much TV.

-- Richard Huntington

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