False Spring

What shape are you? What shape is your body? The photographs in False Spring ask us to consider the incongruity of one’s self and body. These photographs warp the border between the private experience of one’s body and the public, tragicomic reality of inhabiting it. Borrowing freely from the visual language of theatre, drag, fashion photography and portraiture, these photographs recontextualize the human body in order to humanely (and humorously) question our collective assumptions on gender performance and the fixity of identity.

These photographs often border on the surreal. There is an unexplainable uncanniness to the close up portrait of a mall Santa: one sees the human being, the false beard, the festive hat but still one struggles to totally separate the actor from the costume and performance. Then, behind the mall Santa, a green velvet backdrop emerges directly out of a Baroque painting. This cross-talk between past and present, human and artificial brings these photographs together. In this way, the photographs movingly demonstrate that the surreal is an inherent part of human life – not apart from it.

But these photographs are not limited to human portraiture. Several focus instead on small, kitschy objects: colourful stones on a tablecloth, paper butterflies tethered to a chain-link fence. These few photographs without human bodies take the most overlookable, pathetic objects and raise them to the level of human beings. By warping the border between the private and theatrically public, the human and extra-human, these photographs consider the myriad social and gender roles that human beings must perform. But these photographs do not descend into cynicism. Rather, the gaze and gestures of their subjects speak directly to the viewer: underneath it all—the drag, the performance, the cumbersome body—the human looks out and looks out for us.