LOS ANGELES—If one were to list the various avocations of April Flores, it would be a major oversight not to include “muse” in her résumé. In addition to her work as an adult performer, writer and plus-size model, Flores serves as a full-time muse to her husband and partner, photographer Carlos Batts. Like models over the centuries who have inspired beautiful works by painters and sculptors, Flores is a wellspring of inspiration to Batts. How fitting, then, that the two are showing the fruits of their collaboration in the context of the art world.
On Saturday, July 27, Batts and Flores will celebrate the publication of Fat Girl, Batts’ latest fine art book, with events at the Museum of Contemporary Art Grand Avenue and Coagula Curatorial, both in downtown Los Angeles. Published by Rare Bird Books, Fat Girl represents a 12-year collaboration between the photographer and his model. Sara Rosen, publisher of Miss Rosen Editions, wrote the foreword to Fat Girl, and Flores contributes the introduction and several personal essays.
The book, Batts’ fourth published collection, features photographs of Flores from intimate to highly stylized, including rare early Polaroids of Flores as a blonde, before she switched to magenta locks. Portraying his subject as both virtuous and vulgar, Batts challenges society’s assumptions about beauty, desirability, identity, performance and sexual subjectivity.
Together, Batts and Flores explore complex cultural issues, including racial identity, aesthetics and body politics. Their collaboration also reflects the different communities that Batts and Flores belong to and draw inspiration from, including various underground art scenes, the world of independent filmmaking, West Coast queer communities and the feminist porn movement. Fat Girl provides a glimpse into a world where sex, love and art collide.
Flores writes, “I knew that I wanted to redefine and change the meaning of the term ‘Fat Girl.’ To me, fat would no longer be the negative word had been and was to so many others. I wanted to take away the shame, and make those words have a positive, empowering connotation.”
The first event on the 27th will be a discussion about the book and a book signing from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Ahmanson Auditorium at MOCA (250 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, 90012). The event is free with RSVP; send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The book can be purchased at the MOCA store. For more information, go to the Facebook event page.
Right after the book signing ends, the opening reception for a exhibit of photographs from Fat Girl will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. at Coagula Curatorial (977 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, 90012). The reception will feature a nail bar by Cha Cha Covers, cupcakes by Little Sweeties, and a spanking station sponsored by The Pleasure Chest. Flores will perform “Body Image” during the reception.
The photographs will be on view through August 3. For more information, go to the Facebook event page.
For more information about the gallery, to go CoagulaCuratorial.com.
Fat Girl can be ordered on Amazon.com.