Red Riding Hood
Marie Antoinette & Courtney Love
Joan Of Arc
Mary Ann Cotton
In the current cultural climate, women identified, trans, trans* and non-binary individuals often lack power over their own sexuality. This occurs through misrepresentation, objectification, and violence against us in various types of media, from fashion magazines, to music videos, mainstream porn, and even hunting magazines. Big’Uns is an ongoing photographic portrait series that explores the reclaiming of sexuality and our bodies. Sport hunting, which has widely replaced hunting for sustenance, uses a language that is violent and oppressive not only to animals but also to women identified, trans, trans* and non-binary individuals. Linda Kalof, Amy Fitzgerald, and Lori Baralt state that within sport hunting discourse “is the sexualization of animals, “women,” and weapons, as if the three are interchangeable sexual bodies in narratives of traditional masculinity.” (Animals, Women, and Weapons: Blurred Sexual Boundaries in the Discourse of Sport Hunting, 2004) They also conclude that “Animals’ physical attributes are described using stereotypical feminine characteristics of appearance.”
An example of this is the common term “Big’uns” to refer to an animal’s antlers. Even though antlers come from a male animal, they are fetishized as being female breasts, in particular, “big ones.” This type of language usage plays a key role in dis=empowering our sexuality. These photographs are an act of reclaiming power over our own sexualities. This struggle is physically represented by strapped-on antler racks that protrude from our reproductive areas. The antlers, and the tension that they cause, allude to the many factors that women must contend with in order to have healthy relationships, positive self-image, and, of course, sexual relationships. For us these factors include the first-hand experience and/or the intergenerational effects of residential schooling, sexual abuse, and the unrealistic portrayal of our bodies by the media.
By repossessing the antlers in this way, we aim to demonstrate a reclaiming of power for women identified, trans, trans* and non-binary individuals and how we choose to be seen.
Bad Girls is inspired by scandalous and intriguing women throughout history. My catholic upbringing has impressed onto me the idea of an acceptable woman, what they act like, what they look like and how they are portrayed. By referencing the renaissance genre of history painting I create mythological and allegorical images of women throughout history, but with a rebellious, sexual twist. These women fascinate me because their stories portray them as “bad girls”. These images ask the viewer the question “why are these specific women perceived to be ‘bad’, why is a woman owning her own sexuality considered a malfeasance?” By using allegorical stories and myths, I use archetypal female characters throughout history to present a new type of history image, one where the female is empowered, in control, and blessed by a baroque stream of light. Digital photography itself informs my work, the idea of truth in the photograph is subverted, through digital editing, to create an alternative truth, a pluralistic female narrative. By breaking free of the male dominated genre of history painting, photography is the far more neutral medium to convey my images. I reinterpret this genre and the characters I portray. Women’s sex, sanity, insanity, religion, gender, bondage and girl versus girl mentality are some subjects I am exploring and will continue to explore.
The work, shot over a two year period, is Danger’s own reflection on the complex, intertwined relationships of family and identity, and the protective bond shared between sisters. While Danger’s previous work has often represented an intersection of portraiture and self-portraiture, Sisters is the first time Danger has become the subject of her own work – a turn the artist describes as empowering, while also creating a sense of vulnerability. The series of seven photos represents a time of reconnection for Danger and her sister, Michelle, after a prolonged period of separation. The culmination of each session acted as a reclamation of intergenerational relationships, and the discarding of baggage being carried with them. The works became a time to process both the pain and love shared between sisters, and a chance to forge a different future for each other.