My inspiration for this series of work was a drawing by Louise Bourgeois titled Femme Maison. Ive always found her work inspirational especially her interest in psychoanalysis and how it influenced her art.
The Femme Maison (1946-47) paintings by Louise Borgoise touch upon the problem of identity for women. Here, the heads of nude female figures have been replaced by architectural forms, resulting in a symbolic condensation of the conflict between domestic and sexual roles. For Bourgeois architecture symbolized the social world that attempts to define the individual, in contrast to the inner world of emotion. The tension between figure and architecture mirrors the dichotomy between mind and body. Bourgeois suffered from agoraphobia, and often withdrew into her house for protection. Yet, as Bourgeois wrote, “the security of the lair can also become a trap.”
Borgoise’s paintings accentuated the problems with female identity in the 40’s and 50’s whereby the social architecture of the house was used to mask and almost suffocate the emotional/personal identity. In my series I was interested in how architecture in the present day defines women. The head of the house hold, the owner of the house, the businesswoman, the manager, the CEO. Women’s roles have dramatically altered since the 40’s and this is reflected in the architecture and the mask that is worn.
Whilst creating these new works, I also looked at haute couture, corset design and the works of Lee Bowery and Alexander McQueen. My question was how can I make these buildings wearable, mask-like, skin-like by adopting the mechanics of fashion.
Erase Project: (Preliminary Materials)
Erase Project: (Preliminary Materials) 2014, was initially inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing of 1953. Like Rauschenburg, I wanted to create an artwork from a ready made, utilizing the act of erasing and removal as opposed to the accumulation of marks. Rauschenberg wanted to erase a drawing by an artist he idolized. The finished piece by Rauschenberg shows the residue of a psychologically loaded act which simultaneously pays homage and celebration whilst creating provocation and exemplifying destruction. My aim for this project was to combine this psychologically loaded act of removal with images of women in advertising taken from glossy fashion magazines. These hyper-real images of airbrushed women are the by-products of capitalist consumer culture designed to seduce and consume through the continuous recreation of identity. Reflecting upon Tiqqun’s ‘Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young- Girl’, the ‘Young-Girl” becomes not a gendered concept but an examination of the embedding of youth and femininity (living currency) into the cogs of the capitalist machine, denying and excluding experiences of love and creativity in favor for passive economic, political and social obedience.
The Crystalline project, inspired by Deleuze's writings on crystal-time in Cinema II, is a collection of disrupted vintage photographs, film stills and studio portraiture of women from the golden age of Hollywood. Geometrically divided, squared and cut, duplicated images are reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle within the format of a grid in order to produce a fractured circuit or a simultaneous double. The grid becomes both the compositional and conceptual device for the theatrics of the deconstruction of the collage to take place, an arena where identity is questioned, formed, reconstructed and at times made unrecognizable.
Belladonna or deadly nightshade is a perennial herbaceous plant that produces toxic berries that if ingested can cause hallucinations delirium and sometimes death. In Italian, belladonna means beautiful woman, however historically women who wanted to look more attractive and seductive used the juices of the berry cosmetically as an eye drop to enlarge the size of the pupil. The use of the toxic belladonna as an eye drop resulted in visual distortions, increased heart rate and prolonged use caused blindness. In folklore, the belladonna plant was combined with opium (by witches) to produce an ointment to help them fly. This flying ointment encouraged hallucinatory dream-like states, a twilight sleep similar to a pain-killer which was used in the past on women in childbirth and was also believed to be used by Queen Victoria.
The aim of the Belladonna project was to appropriate the aesthetic of the glossy fashion magazine by reconstructing the standardized image of women used to reflect market mechanisms. Collecting images of women from magazines posing for fashion and cosmetic advertising campaigns I wanted to produce a disruption to the original image/concept that allowed a contradiction to the original identity.
The Nymphadalidea Collective
The Nymphadalidea Collective (2013-2014) explores my fascination with the butterfly print and how it originated. Earlier known as Klecksography or ink blots, devised by Justinus Kerner (poet) in 1851 and used as illustrations to his work. Later these inkblots also became known as Gobolinks or shadow pictures. The latter eventually captured a great deal of interest and the work by Ruth McEnery Stuart and Albert Bigelow Paine made into a book form game “for young and old” was published in 1896. The work taught the reader how to create ink-blot monsters in order to ignite imaginative creative writing. The method, indeed similar to that used by Kerner, involved dropping ink or paint onto a piece of paper which was then folded thereby producing a double-sided mirror reflection in two halves.
Klecksography was studied with great fascination by Rorschach, the Swiss psychoanalyst, and this technique of ink blots was later made famous and was to become more popularly known as the Rorschach Test. The ink blot test became a tool used by psychologists in order to examine personality characteristics and emotional functioning by triggering associative thoughts, involuntary imagination and unconscious desires. It is still used in the world of psychotherapy to this day for studying the subconscious.
The work I produced in the Nymphadalidea collective originated from a selection of vintage photographs of burlesque dancers. Burlesque performers entertained the audience through political and theatrical satire (whilst being the object of sexual desire for men). They defied conventions of their time by challenging the role of women in society. Adopting the technique of the ink blot upon the burlesque dancers my objective was to produce a double sided mirror which enhanced their feminine powers whilst allowing an associative trigger of the imagination akin to Klecksography.
Cinema II was one of the first series of collage work I produced which drew inspiration from film stills and Hollywood portraiture. Concepts of movement and time interested me, especially the work of Edward Muybridge who explored human and animal motion captured by the use of multiple cameras. These stop-motion photographs led to the invention of the zoopraxiscope. Designed by Muybridge, the zoopraziscope predated perforated film strips used in cinematography and was later regarded as an early movie projector.
The work I produced in Cinema II utilises single and double images of iconic portraits of Hollywood actors and actresses. Sliced in vertical strips the portraits are layered to form surreal visual experiences and optical sensations of vibration, movement and metamorphosis.
The Fortune Teller
The Fortune Teller series was initially inspired by a painting by Carravagio called the Fortune Teller (1594). The scene depicts a young boy having his palm read by a gypsy girl. They both look into one another’s eyes, but unbeknown to the boy, the gypsy girl is removing a ring from his finger. Fortune telling, a form of divination, was and still is practiced as a way to predict information about a persons past, present and future life. I used to play a game as a child called the fortune teller which was created similar to the structure of an origami object.
The game was created from a folded square piece of paper. The structure used numbers and colours from which the person whose fortunes were being read could chose from. The concept for my first collection of Fortune Tellers involved playing with this 3 dimensional structure but using photographs from vintage Hollywood portraiture. The folding and restructuring of the photograph allowing a distortion of the faces of the actors, charging the image to act in an alternative way.