For the last five years I have been exploring social performances around food-based celebrations. With an eye towards ephemeral experiences that bring out joy and revelry or social expectations and conformity, I have documented a range of events including dinner parties, family meals, a cafeteria and a wake, with a stationary time-lapse camera. I then use the hundreds or thousands of resulting photographs as the basis of a labour intensive investigation that encompasses photo-manipulation, collage, drawings, and paintings. In the work I am exposing tension between what we hide and what we flaunt, what is socially acceptable and what is taboo, what is attractive and what is repulsive through the frameworks of ritual and social norms. I investigate public acting to find the slippage in these performances that reveals something surprising or incongruent. I’m interested in how we navigate the relationship between inside and outside, the physical and the indescribable, what we can see and what we cannot see, in an attempt to understand ourselves and our bodies, others and their bodies; how we connect, try to connect, or don’t connect.
Food is an animator. It is tied to social expectations around how to act, what to eat, what not to eat, when and where, how and with whom. I have been drawn to acts of eating and drinking as times when a direct link is being made between what is outside the body and what is inside, exploring pleasure and the grotesque. My examination of the performed self and the tension between interior and exterior uses the camera as the silent witness – the observer – as it relates to notions of objectivity. I am interested in our attitudes towards being photographed and recorded; how the age of surveillance and social media has changed our perception of privacy and legacy when it comes to image capturing. I take this a step further to think about how our understanding of the image is changed when it is rendered in paint. What are the inherent and persisting expectations of a photograph or surveillance (truth, the banal, objectivity?) versus that of painting (elevation, longevity, subjectivity?). I question the authority of the camera through formal choices. Methods employed include painting or drawing multiple images of the same figure in a single composition, rendering all of the figures who have occupied a particular space over the course of an event, isolating a figure from a crowded scene into a solitary composition, changing scale, and varying technique.
I investigate how each medium expresses time, records time, and lends to the understanding or perception of time; recording the movements and actions of people embodying public and private spaces in order to capture transience and change.