Primarily, Dawn Woolley's artwork is self-portraiture, but not in the traditional sense. In the work Woolley creates a photographic copy of herself and places it in the real world as a substitute self.
The photographs, videos and installations form an enquiry into the act of looking and being looked at. Referring to psychoanalysis, phenomenology and feminism Woolley examines her own experience of becoming an object of sight and also considers the experience the viewer has when looking at the subject as a female, and a photographic object. Voyeurism and exhibitionism intertwine as she attempts to disrupt relationships of power in purposefully provocative scenes.
By producing photographs that establish the artist as an object it could be argued that the artwork produced reinforces stereotypical images of the female body, but by depicting her own body as an image she is able to suggest her presence while confirming her absence. There is a suspension of disbelief taking place in the viewing public, as they want to see image and body simultaneously. The overtly sexual nature of the body compels the viewer into the position of voyeur, only to reveal itself as an inanimate object.
This wilful delusion is inherent to the medium of photography - the desire to look at a 2-dimensional photograph and believe in the integrity of the 3-dimensional objects that are suggested by the surface.
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