Identity, learned roles & accepted body support structures & external perception.

I constructed this idea of a traditional dress using red rubble sacks from the garden centre. It wasn't meant to be anything other than working with thoughts about how the body may or may not be represented by juxtaposing learned concepts of what is a male figure (body) within a traditional female structure (dress). It for me becomes sculptural and architectural as the overlaid structure is in contrast to the form that is supposed to traditionally support it. If this was worn in the street there would be a strong reaction against those elements interacting. A male figure supporting a female construction (dress) would be interpreted as a subversion of either the form (body) or the overlay (dress).

In the sense of clothes as gender specific there is an immediate awareness of the body as separate from the things it supports ( clothing). So what goes normally unnoticed as a frame for supporting clothing the body immediately becomes separated and there is a common reaction against it. It is seen as undermining invisible value structures in the same way as exploratory ideas about the body and fashion and challenging perceptions of what is possible with the body as a supporting or merged form are seen as experimental and provocative.

In much the same way that the work of Lucy McRae has to contend with being seen as abstract philosophical art rather than progressive contemporary evolution of the scientific body. The simple wearing of accepted traditional female uniform structures (this is why my dress is fairly traditionally figurative) by the male gender is viewed as fetishisation and sexual dysfunction rather than as progressing ideas beyond the narrow confines of set gender roles.

I think good architecture frees the spaces it contains and this idea was about exploring the idea of Internal identity expression via outward form so as not to be imprisoned by where the boundaries are allowed to exist. I might feel more female than male or others less or more but that can only be internalised not represented externally because there are definite architectural ideas about what a particular body may or may not support.

To me these are interesting questions and one that art seems to have a flexibility to allow and one where general external perception is tolerant of that. To simply place a traditional female architectural structure upon a male body however is seen not as artistic expression of the self but rather a dark subversive act which belongs to a place of sexual deviance rather than one that is simply exploring ideas of what the body might be and how society might not define what it sees as allowing it to support.

All of these ideas are working toward a finished project which will have a political point of view and see the body as a device to support ideas that can challenge learned perceptions and the status quo.

The hood is meant to blur immediate recognition so that the eye wanders away from trying to figure out the face which the brain automatically wants to do. The image is deliberately challenging and surreal to represent the space I have to occupy internally.

 

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