Saturday, August 04, 2007

Le Dossier • Christine Webster

Through the lens of her camera and the commitment of others prepared to do her bidding, Christine Webster has created a world of fiction that has both intrigued and shocked her audience since her 1982 entrée to an art arena dominated by the documentary genre.

Pivotal to Webster’s art practice have been her desire to rebel against the strictures of society by exposing the unaccepted frissons underlying it, her fascination with the different personae people reveal, and her wish to connect to her audience by ‘expressing the inexpressible’, something universal she can explain only as being ‘about the human condition, a longing, an emptiness’1. All her work stems from her exploration of identity, gender stereotypes, sexuality and the inter-gender balance of sexual power. As a means to this end, she uses disguise, the ‘pose’ and performance, her maxim being, ‘I’m not so interested in photographing what’s there – I’d rather construct the image – it’s more true to me’. »

Elizabeth Caughey

Webster was introduced to photography as a drama student, as the model on the other side of the lens – to which she attributes her directorial mode of working. She began photographing people at night under street lighting, quickly recognising the enigmatic and dramatic potential of darkness as a ‘blank canvas’. This became the perfect backdrop for many of her subsequent highly posed tableaux. Webster has always identified with the darkness and vulnerabilities of others, seeing in their reflection her own struggles, and the universal. The daughter of a Baptist pastor, her childhood memories are saturated with religious imagery evoking drama and violence that bordered on the erotic. She feels she ‘learned to be an object’, and yet recognised the traits and vulnerabilities buried as complex layers beneath her public persona.

Elizabeth Caughey

all pictures from Le Dossier


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