Honey Long and Pru Stent's dream-like photography may seem 'pretty', but it has an unpretty story to tell, as Ros Brennan explains

There are some words in the English language which are used to the point of semantic fatigue. Centuries of conditioning chip away at their original meaning, warping our perspective and changing the way we think. It's a dangerous and insidious phenomenon that happens slowly over time, without anyone blinking an eyelid. Beauty is one of those words.

Beauty for ancient thinkers was a subjective notion, which existed both in physical attributes and virtue. It was Confucius who said, 'Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.' Today, the Hollywood machine perpetuates the idea that there is a prescribed formula for beauty and certain criteria that must be met, particularly for those belonging to the fairer sex.

Using their lenses as gunpowder, Sydney photographers Pru Stent and Honey Long are reclaiming the word beauty, sticking a fiery flag in the earth of our minds and asking us to question the oversimplified narratives around a woman's identity.

At just twenty-four years of age respectively, the artist-duo and lifelong friends have made a name for themselves internationally, filming a campaign for Gucci, exhibiting widely in Australia and garnering tens of thousands of followers on Instagram (because that's a legit marker of success these days, sigh).

Their latest feat is no less impressive, as the two were selected to exhibit in 'Future Feminine' in LA among a swag of respected female artists. Showing from January 18 to February 24 at The Fahey/Klein Gallery, 'Future Feminine' presents the visions of a group of distinctly 21st century female photographers with their eyes toward the future. Pru Stent and Honey Long will exhibit alongside Amanda Charchian, Remy Holwick and Magdalena Wosinska. 

For 'Future Feminine', Long and Stent's deceptively sugar-sweet imagery conceals a deeper, philosophical underbelly, enacting a clever brand of quiet subversion that has become their signature. Their work explores the notion of beauty as an instrument of control, interrogating the one-dimensional understanding of a women's identity as being tied to her appearance.

As Long explained to Another Magazine, "The idea of beautification involves a strong nuance of trying to conceal, pacify something that's otherwise confrontational, dangerous or even gruesome. Historically, beautifying has been a way of controlling, and we wanted to look at how this operates in relation to the female body."

"Women are always being defined in relation to other factors, their identity seems to constantly be dependent upon something external to them. We want to acknowledge the inherent complexity of our subjects and create a space where they can become active." 

Feminine mystique: the Aussie artists redefining beauty