There’s something slightly disturbing about Prue Stent and Honey Long‘s work—it’s just hard to figure out exactly what. Whether it’s isolated tongues or strange manipulations of the female body, Stent and Long’s art pays a different kind of homage to the human form. Their latest series, Soft Tissue, explores sexuality and idealized notions of femininity through subversive and surrealist depictions of female anatomy. A headless torso, an inverted breast—each image reinterprets the male gaze by harnessing it, sexualizing inanimate objects like bubblegum and balloons, while capturing the intricacies of female flesh that ultimately demystify it. In Prue and Honey’s imagery, women are never the object—even when there’s an audience—because they’re always in control. And somehow, between sweat-drenched sheets and spit-out gum, they find beauty—the modern Venus in all her imperfect, pink glory.
Beginning in high school, the Melbourne and Sydney-based artists started collaborating on installations, performance pieces and photography. Now in their 20s, Stent and Long have solidified their dreamy yet disconcerting style, fusing feminism with an eye for the absurd. Their art spans different mediums, using unabashed nudity to challenge perception and social construction. But even with gummy balloons and pink fur landscapes, Prue and Honey’s work doesn’t need to take you to another world—it makes sense of the one we already live in.
BULLETT caught up with the artists to talk about their partnership and the patriarchy.
Tell me about Soft Tissue.
H: These photos are a part of our latest body of work together, Soft Tissue, which presents surreal abstractions of the female body. Similar to the title, the works are delicate and soft, but with this underlying sense of gruesomeness. We really wanted to unearth a sense of the eeriness that exists in representations of beauty—like a mask that’s covering up the entirety of what’s there.
What themes do you explore?
H: Our art practice creates a space for us to explore our own perceptions in a way that doesn’t have to be verbal, and that, in itself, can widen the possibilities for how you perceive things. We try to generate depth in our images and widen the scope of how things can be viewed. If our work is able to validate intangible feelings for people, that’s awesome.
All of your work focuses heavily on nudity. Why?
H: Being nude exposes a lot of our fragility as humans and at the same time, feels really good and liberating.
P: Our bodies are also our most tangible and intimate resources—so intrigue, perhaps? Or convenience? Maybe a bit of both.
What’s your collaborative process like?
H: A lot of the time it feels like we’ve created one identity together that we both understand and contribute to and less like a collaboration, I guess. Our process is very much tied up in our friendship and having shared appreciations and curiosities. Work usually evolves from experimenting with phenomena around us that attracts us, like textures and substances we find alluring or landscapes that have a sense of otherworldliness.
P: Our friendship and practice are so harmoniously intertwined that I can’t really tell one from the other.
What’s the hardest part about working together?
P: Honey not cc’ing me in on emails. And the fact we are based in different cities, although it does make the time we have together very precious and mostly productive.
You use pink in a lot of your work, including Soft Tissue. Why?
H: Pink is a really rich color, both symbolically and visually, and has lots of contradicting associations. Because we work with a pre-scripted idea of femininity and try to manipulate it, it’s useful in creating that ongoing dialogue.
P: We actually tried to not make the exhibition completely pink. But we seem to be continuously drawn to it and also find it useful in subverting a generic idea of femininity.
Does feminism play a role in your creative process?
H: Not overtly, or in a strictly academic sense. But I think we make art that is informed by the experience of inhabiting a female body and how that experience relates to a number of discourses to do with marginalization in our culture.
P: Whether it’s directly intentional or not, it always shows through.
In your artist statement, you talk a lot about using art to explore cultural classifications and the subconscious. How does your work explore these ideas?
H: We explore cultural classifications within the process of image making, where you are constantly navigating the system of classification present within in our culture, for the most part due to patriarchal and colonial power structures, which tries to dictate the meaning of subject matter and presume some kind of control over it. Bending cultural symbolism and signifiers within our work hopefully disrupts some of this and encourages the viewer to take away their own meanings and associations from it.
What do you want to people to take away from your work?
H: The inherent mystery and magic of things.
P: I hope people go away feeling strangely drawn to the work, and at the same time, maybe a little repulsed, but without knowing why.