Throughout our lived life histories we are being made and undone as subjects over and over again.
Griselda Pollock, Differencing the Canon 1999:100
Gender parody reveals that the original identity after which gender fashions itself is an imitation without an origin [...] This perpetual displacement constitutes a fluidity of identities that suggests an openness to resignification and recontextualisation; parodic proliferation deprives hegemonic culture […] of the claim to naturalized or essentialist gender identities.
Judith Butler, Reader, 2004:112
Made & Undone investigates identity and its constructedness, unfixity and potential for mutability. I did this using my own body, gesture, costume and dressing-up to re-present myself as a variety of 'others' that reference western cultural stereotypes. These 'others' were not be determined by myself, but by a series of invited dressers. The dressing process involved a loss control on my part that mirrors the lack of autonomy we have in the construction of our subjectivity. The identities created were then fleshed out as I live my life in their guises, visiting the studio, exhibitions, shopping centres and travelling on public transport in order to experience the world from a different perspective. These appearances as the 'others' were initially less performative (which suggests a planned action that directs viewer understanding) and more suggestive, or gestural, and therefore open to wider interpretation by those who view it.
The aim was to represent the multiplicity of selves or 'others' in photographic images which were then incorporated into found and made objects. I hoped to initially fool the viewer into believing the 'others' were different individuals, followed by the recognition that all are me. The results of this deception hopefully enabled viewers to recognise the fallacy of unitary fixed identities and their own potential for multiplicity. Ultimately this should lead the viewer to see themselves differently (Homi K. Bhabba, Mary Mary Quite Contrary, 1997:94).
I not only focused on female 'others' in fitting with my socially ascribed gender, but also male 'others', thereby creating a hetero-normative frame of gendered difference that encompasses the female and male at either end, but also allows space for other ways of being, where androgyny and other non-stereotypes are found.
Conceptual aims were to interfere in normative signifying processes and practices to demonstrate the mutability of gender and identity and suggest there are other ways of being beneath the regulatory fictions that construct and control our ontological gendered cores (Sara Salih & Judith Butler, Reader, 2004:113).