In the dark poem The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Tennyson, when the woman looks into the mirror (reality) it cracks, and the spell (imaginary) is broken so the wo(man) must die. But the mirror has a silver backing which is hidden from the gaze and so she has the possibility of being reborn. The MA project is about looking into that mirror, going back, remembering and uncovering, with the intention of establishing an(other) identity.
What grew from an initial observation of someone powdering her face, has led me to question whether a cultural obsession with appearance and the relationship technology has upon the human being masks a loss of identity, and to ponder whether we are a society in mourning for that absence. Looking into the mirror to repeatedly draw and to remember or to film myself performing a different mundane ritual is the practice, the drawing and the filming linked by a repetitive motion and the act of washing. Freud is countered by Luce Irigaray whose opposing feminist stance makes a theoretical paradigm to contextualise the project, whose duality reflects the duality of the Freudian concept of the drives, towards drawing and a direct response from the body or towards film and a reliance upon technology, the compulsion to repeat acting as a symbolic relationship between the two polarities.
're(membering)' the drawing project, investigates mourning and loss, its process documented and captured on video and stored within the computer's memory as a slide show, each drawing remaining as a fragment within a flour grid. As I attempt to subvert the gaze of the viewer in 'Screens', by videoing a series of repetitive actions upon myself, the performances parody a prescribed 'man made' ideal of beauty which questions the aesthetic of the image, the possessive role of the viewer and the importance of ritual and obsession to the work. Is the washing and photographing an obsessive symptom of something that can only exist in the symbolic and the imaginary as part of a system which finds itself defined as lack, deficiency, or as imitation, or will the viewer empathise with the images and experience some of the feelings of their own unconscious loss and separation. Lacan defined the real as a 'missed encounter which 'cannot be represented, but can only be repeated'(quoted in Hal Foster), which 'returns as a compulsion to repeat' (Freud quoted in Strachey).