Silent Treatments and Talking Cures
This photo series and installation attempts to articulate the precariousness of women’s relationship to language and represent the experience of feeling silenced/muted. Drawing on Surrealist photography and psychoanalysis, the piece explores the cultural production of “hysteria” and voicelessness.
This body of work offers a meditation on mutism. Silence, in this piece, is conceptualized as a restrained/repressed voice and as a potentially powerful presence. Images such as a woman contemplating a large tongue, an ear in a jar, and a woman screaming into a pillow examine the precariousness of women’s relationship to language in both speaking and being heard. At the same time, the images are intended to evoke and make palpable the sensation and frustration of voicelessness. This experiential quality is achieved through metaphoric imagery such as the neck and bubble, and through the formal properties of the work.
The stylized and staged poses, symmetrical compositions, even lighting, and decontextualization of the picture elements produce images that emphasize the stasis and muteness of the photographic medium. The amplification and pronouncement of silence functions in two ways. Firstly, it monumentalizes the experience of feeling muted, thus producing a site for viewer identification. Secondly, it ultimately invokes the sound that it appears to deny. It is here that silence acquires a real presence and in a sense becomes loud.
Additional information and a gallery of installation images of Silent Treatment and Talking Cures can be found in the Performance/Installation section of this website.