This work seeks to explore the interactions between subject and material in the context of portraiture. Kirsty, my subject and my friend throughout this whole process, enters an enclosed environment and dons several materials, generating a transformative progression. The process begins with lighter, more translucent fabric, and progresses to heavier and more opaque substances. Her first interactions are distinctly feminine; here, the classic idea of the studio portrait is represented, where the individual dons the role of the model to produce an evocative response. Progressively she becomes shrouded and more obscured, and the initial femininity is lost, replaced instead by something more ambiguous. I am fascinated by this change – when the familiar ritual of the portrait is altered and skewed, and when the subject loses the ability to expect what is next. After some time, the subject seems to lose all sense of time and place, and instead becomes something else entirely. They are no longer playing role – but are becoming it.
I was inspired by the work of Dieter Appelt and Phyllis Galembo, two photographers that work with various materials as metaphorical masks. Galembo's colorful, striking portraits and Dieter's ritualistic exploration of himself both hint at some of the ideas I hope to express with my own work. I believe that the mask, while fabricated and applied, can transform into truth.
"I didn't feel human for a while there." - Kirsty Reeves