Through my art I seek to question and undermine traditional conceptions of corporeality while also exploring the relationship between the body and identity. Western thought has traditionally viewed the human subject in a dualist way, as consisting of two separate entities- mind and body. Epitomised by Descartes, this view insists that to be a self is above all to be distinguished from the other, to be ordered and discrete, a self secure within the well-defined boundaries of the body, capable of existing independently of the body rather than actually being the body.
Through my photography I seek to challenge these conceptions of the self and the body. I am trying to present vision of the subject as fundamentally embodied whilst raising questions as to the closure and integrity of the self. I wish to present the body not as a protective envelope that defines and unifies our limits, but as an organ of physical and psychical interchange between bodies- a kind of inter-subjectivity that produces identity. In my work the body is presented as unstable, ambiguous, fluid, and constantly in flux. I am hoping to highlight how our experience of the body is always already mediated by our continual interactions with other human and non-human bodies.
The naked male figure figures prominently in many of my photographs. This has been for many reasons. The history of the nude in western art has been predominantly focused on the female nude. Contemporary lens based media is obsessed with the female figure. I am interested to expose and explore the blind spot of the naked male figure in photography. Simply put, focusing on men is a strategy to challenge the tradition of the objectification of women. Moreover, I am trying to work against a stereotypical discourse of masculinity. These stereotypes, as I see them, have traditionally emphasised bodily control and stability through physical strength, often embodied in a physique with a firm and impenetrable exterior, often engaged in a display of controlled action. These stereotypes can be seen everywhere in representations of masculinity from Greek sculpture through to images of the modern day body-builder. The figures in my pictures are represented in such a way as to undermine the illusion of control over the body. The figures are conspicuously fleshy, flawed, subject to age and decay, vulnerable and uncertain as to their boundaries and stability. This results in a kind of fragmentation and incoherence to the body leading to questions over the coherence of the self in relation to the body. The body is no longer the space that secures the idea of self, it is the domain where the self is contested and called into question.
Photography is a particularly appropriate medium to investigate the unstable and changeable nature of the body. Photography once appeared to provide us with causally generated ‘truthful’ records of things in the world in fixed and stable images. It reinforced the Cartesian idea of a disembodied self, capable of attaining certain knowledge from a stable viewpoint. In the digital age these old certainties of photography have faded and its definition has shifted towards a medium that is infinitely mutable, unstable and fragmented, mirroring the characteristics of ambiguity and fluidity I wish to highlight in the corporeality and identities of my subjects.
My photographs are constructed in a manner closer to the manual labour of painting. Taken from several points of view, composed of multiple shots, compressing several instances into a single frame, they are compositions of unified fragments. The sense of an illusory wholeness masking a fractured and uncertain reality is embedded in the very structure of the photographs and functions as a metaphor for the illusion of wholeness in the fragmented self. Embracing all the diversity and flaws of the body normally erased through digital imaging, I aim to trigger a visceral response in the viewer and to engage them physically as well as intellectually.
Ultimately I’m interested in the synthesis of a variety of apparently contradictory dichotomies: mind and body, nature and culture, inside and outside, painting and photography, fiction and reality, and I try to collapse these distinctions into each other.