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The Full Body Spa
Interactive online artwork, 2020.
Music credits: Edmund Ford
By abstracting found beauty imagery and combining it with my own footage of private ritualised actions, I create surreal, uncomfortable landscapes that fragment the body and destabilise a passive acceptance of bodily idealism. I often use advertising discourse which focuses on the outward appearance to accommodate to homogenised beauty ideals.
I focus on privatised beauty rituals as a genre that generates metaphor and enforces meaning. The beauty ritual can be both a vehicle for biopolitical abuse of the body and a strategy of resistance. Every ritual act is performative and generates the possibility for shapeshifting, that is, for creating a new sense of self. The body and material culture play an important role in our identity. Working from Goffman's theory of identity management, I question the notion of authenticity. I propose that there is no 'essence' but a constantly changing sense of self that can be altered to manipulate different contexts. As opposed to being judged solely on our biology, cosmetics and private beauty rituals can bring the individual, interior self to the exterior.
I create purposefully cliched, iconographic imagery combined with contemporary cultural signifiers of the beauty industry: white towels, face masks, eye masks. I draw here on myth making culture as a positive thing. Myth making being a post-modern piecing together of archaic traditions with the contemporary. Through depicting ritual and myth making through film and performance I produce new narratives which can influence, destabilise, and manipulate the real. These actions are not solely fictitious, that is opposed to the real, but are a reflection and a construction of it.
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