Debby Besford

The Boudoir of the Burlesque Performer My work investigates a complexity of issues about the representation of the contemporary female with emphasis on the Burlesque Stage Performer. This naturally led onto questioning the idea of play between photographer, private space, intimacy, fantasy and the real, as well as the mystic of the performer. This body of work has evolved from a deep-rooted curiosity about female sexuality and how this can be expressed in a positive way. The New Burlesque Revival in the 21st Century could be seen as a reaction for women wanting to have fun with their sexuality and celebrate their femininity through a staged persona. The attraction for many of these women is there is no dominant male structure behind these shows and full social and economic autonomy for these women is completely unlike commercial striptease. Both physical and moral integrity are preserved. Burlesque does not attain total nudity. These documentary photographs show the private interiors of the performers bedrooms. They play on the idea of what is real and what is fictional. The home-based domestic interiors are in themselves a theatre where the lives of the performers take on a different persona. Collaboration with these women has been one of immense trust and respect. I did not seek to deconstruct the female performer stereotype or their bedrooms but to explore how these women have taken on total responsibility for the acceptance of their image as well as the fantasies linked to public representation of their 'acted bodies'. Finally, these photographs offer the viewer subtle visual clues about the performer's private world and stimulate the viewer's imagination but at the same time question the positioning of women's sexuality in western society today. For many women the energy of acting out a character and taking on a different identity is liberating and predominant. This has helped clarify my initial curiosity by being invited into 'The Boudoir of the Burlesque Performer'. There is no particular order to the photographs as it is intended that the viewer spends time looking at the details of each interior, finding clues that only scratch the surface of the performer's true identity. read full statement

Location Cambridge, East