Micheila Petersfield


11 November- 12 December, 2020

13 Castray esplanade, Battery Point TAS

In the contemporary age of social media, visual representations of femininity are inextricably tied to digital technology and self-imaging practices. The smartphone has enabled us to easily modify and beautify our appearance through technology, creating distorted perceptions of self-image and ideal femininity. In this photographic exhibition I have envisioned my own body as a series of replicas, responding to the anxieties that have emerged as the boundaries between our material and virtual bodies are increasingly blurred. Playing on this ambiguity, the work Body Double (2020) shows two identical figures, it’s unclear which subject is the ‘original’ in this mirror image. Reflection (2020) recalls historical depictions of Narcissus as my figure leans over a mirror. Instead of gazing down at the reflection, my face is directed towards the camera, engaging with self-image through the camera lens.”

Throughout the series my body is shown to be a malleable material that can be endlessly reassembled and transformed. Costumes are used to mould, compress and sculpt my figure as can be seen in the work La Poupée (2020), a clear homage to the surrealist Hans Bellmer. The bulbous ball joints of his plaster dolls are recreated in this image through stockings, shapewear and cushion stuffing. Similarly, in the work Bodice (2020), my figure is constrained by the undergarments, cinching the waist into a misshapen hourglass.
The visual references to the doll and mannequin build tension between the organic and synthetic, creating an instability that evokes an experience of the uncanny valley. The uneasy experience of the uncanny valley occurs when an object closely imitates human likeness. Through the artifice of fashion, makeup, and photo-manipulation I have intended to push my body towards a simulated state. The suggestion of domestic space alludes to an isolated performance, recalling the genre of the selfie where self-fashioning is situated in personal and everyday environments.
” – Micheila Petersfield, 2020

Exhibition opening:

Friday, 13 November @ 5.30pm

Exhibition runs:

11 November- 12 December, 2020