In her photographs, Oyarzabal plays with the concept of a beautiful, inanimate woman, inviting viewers to be disturbed, enraptured, or a bit of both. By placing herself behind the camera and in the frame, Oyarzabal subverts the trope of the powerless muse, as valued in death as in life. Instead of floating expressionless through the water, Oyarzabal goes through extreme and strenuous lengths to immerse herself in the surrounding natural landscape, working hard to play dead.
Oyarzabal considers the photography project a work of “docu-fiction” — a merging of reality and imagination that seems just in line with pre-Raphaelite artists’ concerns. The artist folds herself into Ophelia’s long legacy, posing important questions along the way: What changes when a woman artist takes control of her own image? Can an image of oppression become one of empowerment?
“I feel satisfied if I can convey this idea of oppression, anxiety, and the breathlessness of some women,” Oyarzabal concluded. “If I can open eyes, I would be pleased.”