The Photographer Shoots Himself. Photography is made for the hidden moment, another magical aspect of the medium.
Convict Lewis Payne, who was sentenced to death for conspiracy with Lincoln's shooting. Roland Barthes said of this portrait, " He is dead, yet he is about to die." I love the concept that Payne is simultaneously alive, dead and about to die.
A work that has been important to me since my days at Catholic girl's school. Even as a young adolescent I found this work erotic. I just wondered how the nuns could talk about it in art history class without being embarrassed. When I began to research hysteria I noticed similarities between Saint Theresa's pose and those of the hysterics. Soon enough I came to discover that Saint Theresa is the patron saint of hysteria, she is sometimes referred to as Saint Hysteria.
There was most certainly an erotic element to the young hysterics episodes as observed by Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot and Sigmund Freud.
Directly inspired by Albert Luys' drawing, supposedly drawn from life at the Salpetriere Hospital whilst observing a patient during a hysterical episode. I ultimately abandoned the cut-outs, but did like the interactive quality.
Luys' supposed observational drawings of the hysterical patients of the Salpetriere Hospital present us with an absurd array of acrobatics.
Paul Regnard's documentation of Salpetriere Hospital patient Augustine in the midst of a hysterical episode. This image became widely admired by silent films stars and stage actresses who styled their poses on Augustine's.
I appropriated this image to use as a projection and created a wooden cut-out in the shape of this figure. I looked at carnival and seaside cut-outs where one poses as another character.
I also projected this image onto myself, tried to line myself up exactly and photographed my attempts at holding Augustine's pose. It was this photography session that led to me considering video taping myself re-enacting someone else's actions, in this case the hysteric Augustine. I found when I re-enacted these events the absurdity was emphasised.
Woodman's merging with her environment conceals part of her, while simultaneously revealing part of her, something I have seen recurring in my own work. Once again the artist's use of the herself is another parallel with my work.
I'm not exactly sure why I'm drawn to figures with their faces obscured. It probably has something to do with the questions that arise about what we do not see.
This piece was created using an altered, found newspaper photograph. The original image was found in a newsroom with no identifying information. The paper published it asking the rural townsfolk to come forward if they recognised themselves or someone they knew..
Dough Portraits, a phenomenon that I just heard about a few weeks ago when Dahlgaard came to the Photographer's Gallery in London offering the public to sit for a dough portrait.
In his Storyville Portraits Bellocq granted anonymity to his subjects, prostitutes from the Storyville District of New Orleans. I like the bluntness with which Bellocq altered his portraits.
He has crudely blotted or scratched out the women’s features, there is no concern with affectation.
This crude concealment while purely functional, results in images that look sordid and forbidden, like looking at something one shouldn’t.
What results is an inadequate attempt to hide something or someone, and again, this attempt only serves to draw even more attention to what is blotted out.
Hajek-Halke's image Home of the Sailors shows us what is not there, emphasised by the windows in place of the figures' eyes. Again, projection is one of the big draws for me here, I love the transformative quality, so simple yet so magical.
Window Eyes is clearly influenced by Hajek-Halke's image. Yet Novak makes it her own with an image of herself as a child clinging to her mother. A contemporary self-portrait is also projected into the composition; the girl appears to be gripping the faint portrait's neck. Novak has said it is like she, the young child, is pulling the past into the present. This use of family members is a practice I have done myself for many years. I feel that my stronger investment is evident in the work.
In Beyond the Family Album Jo Spence observes that only the celebratory that tends to be featured in albums. Assuming her mother's identity as a cleaner, Spence shows what the family album left out. What is left out is of great interest to me. Like Novak, Spence's own mother is featured heavily in her work. Although Spence puts herself in the role of her mother, similar to some of the re-creations I have done with hysterics and Victorian mothers.
Hidden Mother Genre – The Hidden Mother was a Victorian photography studio technique whereby mothers held their children still for the duration of very long exposure times. The women were covered or hidden to keep the focus solely on the child; their anonymity was further insured when their faces were scratched out or cropped off.
This practice illustrates how that which is not visible in the image may influence one’s interpretation and response to said image.
When the mother’s presence is known, it fundamentally alters the viewer’s reaction, possibly allowing the viewer to project his or her own experience onto the image.
What we see is an inadequate attempt to hide someone or something, this attempt only serves to draw even more attention to what is blotted out.
The ultimate 'hidden mother'. Queen Victoria was in the unique situation to be the one that obscured her own image, wiping off her face from the glass plate before it was fixed. Despite this she is still very much present.
This could be classified as a hidden mother image; an enigmatic image of an anonymous person is of real fascination for me. Having said that, I still find I have trouble working with appropriated images, favouring working with people I am very close to.
Talk about punctum... what would Barthes have thought about the 'hidden mother' studio practice of the nineteenth century?
Still from an animated loop of an altered found photograph.
I took this photograph about two years before I learned about the hidden mother genre.
The Pre-Raphaelites inspired me since my teen years. However this wonderful portrait shows just how tedious it must be to pose for yet another portrait, at least in the case of Jane Morris. It is such a contrast to the proper, oh so conscientious studio portraits that were highly coveted by more common folk of the time.
In this image I hope to show a presence despite it's absence.
My nod to the hidden mother, although as a lone figure other contexts come into play.
There a many parallels between this piece and my video, Hidden Exposure; the extended pose, the discomfort the viewer witnesses, the formality and artifice. Although the people portrayed are vastly different, police officers as opposed to mother and child. Having said that, maybe there aren't many differences between a Victorian mother in her Sunday best and a police officer in uniform.
Close up of the projection. This eight minute posing time became a performance of endurance, especially for my daughter.
Installation shot The projection is onto a screen that is standing on the floor like a studio backdrop or prop in a play. Larger than life, the figures look out at the viewer or camera.
Wearing's self portrait as her mother in a way becomes a 'hidden mother'. The fact that it is her 'posing' as her mother creates an even stronger message. Wearing is looking out through her mother's eyes, essentially at herself, considering Wearing herself took the picture. Just very recently, I have come to realise just how important Wearing's work is to my research.