Penetralia (2015) Digital C-type photographic prints derived from paper collages
My practice is predominantly situated in the intersection between sculpture and studio-based photography, and I employ a range of creative strategies to explore women’s wigs because they have a particular ability to project and exaggerate the feminine and act as a symbol for the female body.
Penetralia builds on my previous project Wigs, but rather than explore narrative and symbolic associations around the posed wig, I am removing the ‘body’ from the wig so as to explore its suggestive possibilities in its ‘formless’ state. Wigs are intended to be worn on the body, they are easily subsumed on to the body’s surfaces, but a disembodied wig becomes an object of fascination in its own right – it’s own interior becomes a space for exploration, and a space to question the femininity signified by its exterior.
I have moulded wigs in to forms that draw attention to their ‘object-ness’ and maintain some link to their previous feminising function. I have cut holes through the resulting photographs as a way of opening up the surfaces of the wig – attempting to create playful relationships between interior and exterior, and to generate new spaces where new meanings can be explored.
The word ‘penetralia’ means the inner-most recesses of a building or structure, or the most private or secret part of a thing. It seemed like an appropriate title for the work and refers to my desire to literally and metaphorically shine a light into the recesses of the wig. The title is suggestive and alludes to the link between hair, wigs and sex, as well as having an association with the act of penetrating, or making a hole in something (be it a wig, the surface of a female body, or indeed a photograph).
These fragile paper experiments hint at the flimsy surfaces that make up the masquerade of femininity and further explore notions of the surreal and uncanny in these loaded everyday objects.
Tracing Paper at Paper Gallery, Manchester (2015) Installation Shots
Installed at Semiotic Guerrilla Warfare (III), Dean Clough, Halifax, 2016