Last week our class visited a survey exhibition of photographic artist Pat Brassington at ACCA. Brassington uses photographs and photo collage to produce her images. Her work is influenced by surrealism, Freud and the language of dreams.
Recurring motifs in her work include interior and domestic spaces; carpets and wallpapers, furniture and curtains, figures with obscured faces (by masks or coverings), bodies (often cropped) and legs and feet. Themes are sexuality, domesticity, repression, for example images of taped and fabric-filled mouths, and deformity. Untitled VI, 2002, inkjet print, shows a young boy standing against a wall, his mouth taped up, and lines of tape crossing his body, restraining him. In my mother’s house, 1994, is a grainy photo of a young boy with his head tilted back to display two large goiterous lumps in his throat.
By the Way, 2010, pigment print, shows a woman walking away from the viewer, her head covered by a tall hat-like piece of pink fabric. The figure is very large and is walking along a path or road. Her clothing, a long skirt, jumper and sensible shoes, suggests a disapproving mother. The Secret, 2010, pigment print, is a black and white close up of a young girl’s face, her right eye crossed, and her mouth covered what looks like a piece of blue tape. A strand of hair like a rope hangs around her neck. It’s implied that her ‘secret’ has been censored.
I liked Untitled, 1989, a large triptych of black and white silver gelatin photographs, one showing a pre-Raphaelite looking woman with long tangled hair blowing in the wind, and a draped dress, the second palm trees on a beach bending in a gale next to a wild ocean, and the third a nude woman covering her face with her arms. There is a sense of drama of mystery about this and the feeling of some obscure narrative.
Brassington’s work is both disturbing and sinister, with its grotesque nudity, vulva-like wounds, and stretched tights. Her photographs blur the boundaries of the real and imagined, and have the strange logic of dream or fantasy.