re:de:construction | 2015

Throughout my career I have worked with images of female beauty to investigate male desire and longing. What began early on as a wish to look clearly at our aloneness and desire for connection has led to a more mature awareness of these themes. re:de:construction reworks and reimagines these themes using my early photographic archive.

I produced this series while living in the United Arab Emirates, teaching art to young Muslim women. I was struck with their independence, strength, and desire for self-expression under this oppressive regime. This work is my reaction to the many harsh restrictions imposed upon women in the Muslim culture.

Throughout my career I have worked with female models, but in the UAE it is illegal to photograph a woman’s face without permission from a husband or father. Shiria Law guides the personal and religious practices of Muslims worldwide. It is a law of universal repression for women yet it somewhat more liberal in the UAE. Here, self-expression for women, other than the allowance of certain fashion items such as shoes or purse, is relegated to the face alone. The body and hair must be fully covered.

Revisiting my early photographic archive, I worked with photographs of models from years ago. Over the 5-year period I taught in the UAE I had to work clandestinely, as to work with this subject matter was illegal. I experimented with mixed media, many techniques of layering, veiling and erasure – investigating each image by manipulating it physically, tearing, sanding or erasing parts of the image. I began with the idea of creating natural shapes and forms based on the free movement of the human body. These are large scale images – the faces have been enlarged to a confrontational size. I was interested in the limitations and opportunities created by my own body – the range of my arm movement as I painted or sanded, the faces in relation to the mechanics of my own body movement. These materially manipulated photographs consider the nature of identity and self-expression, and the repression of desire or attraction.

Each work is one of kind
42 x 42 inches