I am an artist and material culture researcher who uses practice-based research to explored the relationships between bodily experience, memory and clothing, both in museums and archives, and in everyday life. Using film, photography, performance work and writing I address the manner in which material objects can become records of lived experience and how the traces of these experiences can be read or understood by the viewer. Exploring the resonance of worn and used artefacts, I seek to uncover how attachment to the material world is produced and maintained.
More broadly my work is concerned with, the relationships between the image (film or photograph) and artefact, and the differing manifestations of trace, experience and gesture contained within an object and represented in an image. Gesture and experience recorded in/on film is set against the same gestures recorded in material form. The dissonances between these records reveal a spatio-temporal uncertainty, an ambiguity between the ‘here-now’ and ‘there-then’. Viewing artefacts and film together is quite other than viewing them separately. Barthes suggests this meeting creates “a new space-time category: spatial immediacy and temporal anteriority, the photograph being an illogical conjunction between the here-now and the there-then.” (Barthes, 1977, p.44). This dissonance between ‘the here-now’ and ‘the there-then’, between action performed and the traces left behind, is precisely what I wish to induce in the viewer.
I am currently the Polaire Weissman Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I am undertaking a one-year fellowship exploring the affective qualities of worn and used garments in the Costume Institute titled “The Afterlives of Clothes”. I am the first practice-based researcher to hold this position. The project is a call to attend more closely to the materiality of the things we wear and to the ways they age and alter. My methodology uses looking closely and making close up images as a way of engaging with the intricacies of wear, gesture, and trace. The current development work for this project uses Polaroid and cyanotype from digital negative to highlight the marks of use and storage on accessories in the costume Institute collection. A parallel strand of research-examining haptic visuality and the impossibility of touch in archives consists of wet plates of gloves and mannequin hands. These works will for the basis of both an exhibition and book.
The project develops and extends the ideas of doctoral research and recently completed book ‘Worn’ (In Press Bloomsbury- 2020). Drawing on anthropological and psychoanalytic perspectives on attachment, affect and the self, and utilising an auto-ethnographic methodology of writing, object, image and filmmaking, it seeks to highlight the experience of wearing and the materiality of wornness, presenting clothing as records of lived experience. It highlights the material traces of these relationships; the ways they are embodied within the artefacts themselves. My works (‘Worn’ polaroids and installation and the performance and image series ‘Fold’ and ‘Cloth’) sought to record my growing attachment to and material destruction of my shoes through and iterative process of making, wearing, and photography: a process repeated many times over the course of the research. The aim in making these images was to amplify the marks of wear, to make them apparent, and unavoidable for the viewer. Using macro lenses I sought to create intimate and enlarged images which highlight these marks in a manner that is affective.