(s)HE – for Wavelengths 2018

This work was created for Wavelengths, a group show comprising nine contemporary female artists responding to Virginia Woolf’s novels.

In her novels, Woolf explores identity in relation to gender and reflects on how time and memory shape one’s character. She also weaves in the power of collective thinking, which promotes conformism and prejudice and notably exposes the expectations on women to perform gendered roles for men’s privilege. In Orlando, Woolf uses clothing to convey her views on gender fluidity, identity and patriarchal traditions over 4 centuries.

With (s)HE, I imagined Orlando having travelled a further century into the present and drew parallels between Woolf’s multiple symbolic associations about collective prejudices and with our contemporary society.

  • The dressmaker’s mannequin is associated with fashion.
  • The drawings are all derived from surgical diagrams and stitches with the purpose of facilitating gender reassignment or figure correction (enhancement or reduction), highlighting the ease with which one can transform their physical appearance in order to conform with an identity or an idea. There is a parallel between the stitch of the garment then and that of a surgery now.
  • The flower head is a reference to Linder Sterling’s confrontational feminist photomontages referring to the male gaze and objectification of women.