MAstars 2008: Debby Besford, MA Photography

MAstars 2008: Debby Besford, MA Photography Debby Besford, The Boudoir of the Burlesque Performer, 2007, Digital image, 40.6cm x 30.5cm. Credit: Debby Besford

Moira Lovell selects Debby Besford from the London College of Communication for MAstars

Debby Besford's portraits of female burlesque performers explore issues of identity but not through a literal representation of what someone looks like. Instead we look 'through the keyhole' into the intimate spaces of the performers boudoir and into the realm of fantasy.

This century has seen a revival of the Burlesque. Unlike commercial striptease there is no dominant male structure behind the performances - social and economic autonomy is inherent. This reaction could be read as a sign of the times; women in control of their own sexuality wanting to celebrate their femininity through a staged persona.

These domestic interiors, these small theatres raise questions about women's sexuality, which Besford highlights in her artist statement.

'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'.

The strength of this work lies in its voyeuristic uncertainty - I feel quite naughty scrutinising these private spaces looking for clues of someone's character. These images play with the indexical qualities of the photographic nature - they are tangible evidence of a person's existence.

Selected by Moira Lovell
Published January, 2008

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