The series CAGED (2023, ongoing) speaks to the tradition of tableau photography, inviting the viewer to complete a narrative in which women are portrayed in intimate moments of solitude.
The women are either looking at something outside our field of vision or turning away from us, leaving their character unexplained. The viewer is thus asked to make meaning from the situation with which we encounter the women; to make dynamic connections between interior spaces and the possible characters of the women depicted.
The title of the series, CAGED, is a metaphoric reference to the ways in which women’s agency historically has been and still is limited by society. Social norms continue to influence the way women can and should act to the extent that we internalise these norms as our own worldview.
As Mary Wollstonecraft wrote in 1792, women are like birds inside symbolic cages, who have become so domesticated by society that they are reluctant to leave the cage. The cage is all we know.
Stylistically, the series draws on the subdued solitude found in Wilhelm Hammerhøj and Edward Hopper’s timeless paintings and Gregory Crewdson’s famous photographs.
Unlike these (male) artists, however, this series is created from a different perspective. Using myself like a sculptor modelling clay – as a transformative material – to humanise a wider societal comment, I break down the barrier between observer and observed. I am both the subject and the audience, which places me in a position where I am bodily simultaneously connected and disconnected from the narrative that unfolds in each of the images and across the images as a coherent series. By deliberately staging, disguising and transforming myself in every picture, I am negating the concept of the classical self-portrait. None of the images in CAGED is of me, and yet I am present in the manner in which I have imagined them, dressed them, lit them, composed them, photographed them and, of course, posed for them. I, therefore, put myself in the place of the women I portray, yet at the same time also observed these women from a distance.