the realm of negligee
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Toronto based visual artist. Currently working on completing my BFA in Photography Studies at Ryerson University.
What topics inspire you the most when creating?
In my art making I am interested in topics surrounding feminism, the body, fashion, gender and formative experiences.
Tell us about 'The Realm of Negligee'. What do you hope people take from this series?
This project began with my own collection and interest with pieces of vintage negligee. They are so appealing with their pale fabrics and delicate lace embroidery. I began thinking about the history of negligees especially in the Victorian era and what meaning they hold as performative feminine garments. The portrait series "The Realm of Negligee" came about when I considered the ways I could shift and stretch the traditional image of the glamorous negligee-clad woman in her boudoir. I photographed individuals of all genders and tried to let them find their own confidence and beauty wearing the outfits in a way that was authentic to their own presentation. I hope this broader representation will allow viewers to consider the uncertainty, flux and ultimately fabricated idea of the "feminine".
Who are your greatest artistic inspirations?
Collier Schorr for her use of collage in her image making, I admire her confidence in cutting up and writing on her photographs. Her photographs of young men allow a vulnerability and sensuality that is so often stripped away. Most of all she brings her own perspective into her editorial photography, blending the genres of fashion, fine art and personal work.
Suzy Lake for her ongoing self portraiture that is personal and politically engaged at once. I am inspired by the way she often intervenes with and reveals the physical materiality of the photographic medium.
Helen Van Meene for her portraits of adolescent girls and loyalty to shooting on film. She has pursued and defined a specific aesthetic and point of view. She often styles her photographs but leaves so much up to the circumstance and character of her subjects.
What advice do you have for other young creative women who would like to share their work with the world?
I think its valuable to stay engaged in the conversations that matter to you and with the art, places and friends that inspire you most. Absorb all the creative juices wherever you find them, embrace your mistakes, be kind to yourself.
Negligee is defined as "a loose gown worn by women". Mid 18th century from French, literally ‘given little thought or attention.’ The feminine past participle of négliger ‘to neglect’, "to disregard, not heed, not trouble oneself about," also "to make light of". This portrait series seeks to reframe conventional presentations of femininity by depicting twelve unique individuals each dressed in vintage pieces of negligee. All the subjects involved were chosen for their distinctly confident senses of personal style and the styling was collaborative valuing their own concerns with self presentation. Negligees were popularized during the Victorian period accompanied by a culture that dictated the way a woman should behave and present herself. These garments acted to cover the female figure while simultaneously creating a gendered expectation of a woman’s poise and allure to be maintained at all times, even in her sleep. They suggest an image of virginal purity as well as sexual availability, posing an impossible contradiction still relevant today. This series is responding to a curiosity and frustration with the confining structures and expected performances of gender. The images aim to shift assumptions about the gendered gaze by photographing a diverse group of people in traditionally feminine garments. Pushing the symbology of the vintage negligee into a contemporary context. Possibly this is done by depicting other kinds of bodies in negligees. Showing queer bodies, male bodies and people of colour, bodies rarely represented in these female ‘costumes’, let alone within the one-sided construct of femininity. The negligee moved beyond the Victorian and through the ongoing cycle of fashion styles. The actresses of Hollywood’s golden age would “slip into something more comfortable” and emerge in a glamorous construction of lingerie in order to seduce a man. Lingerie became an entirely new realm of attire for women to consume. In “Femininity and Fashion since the Victorian Era” Susan K. Freeman critiques fashion’s social history which “often neglects larger considerations of the historical significance of beauty aesthetics, women’s bodies, femininity and consumerism”. This series of photographs takes on an element of parody towards this history with references to posing and a boudoir-esque backdrop seen in imagery of negligees throughout their marketing span. The photographs still show the obvious beauty of the detailed vintage negligees but in a way that repositions their stereotypical uses and connotations.