IEIDE_ Exposing desire

The work of Canadian photographer Diana Thornycroft is featured in the Emergent section in fotofeis 1995. Using costumes, masks, artifical body parts, dolls and theatrical backdrops, she uses herself as a model to explore aspects of sexuality. Tanya Stephan considers her darkly magical photographs.

Ever since Diana Thorneycroft began photographing her own body. her work has consistently aroused controversy. She does not intend to shock. and although the disconcerting realm of the subconscious which she alludes to in her work has been explored for over a century. her directness. her delving and her daring are unintentionally provocative.

in her studio. she constructs a stage of props. takes off her clothes, dons objects which distort her body. mask her face and create an environment of strange ‘remembered images‘. Alone in this primal state of darkness. she moves beneath the camera. shutter locked open. photographing only at intervals when the torch which she controls with her hand illuminates the scene she inhabits.

From these long performance sessions. she achieves pictures which she could never predict or contrive. As she admits. ‘most images that are really successful I don‘t remember taking because i take a lot over the course of two to three hours. After a while. body language takes over and it becomes very


intuitive. When 1 process the film. I'm often really

. . . sometimes I'm not even in the photograph!‘ she laughs. ller movement and the protracted exposure of the camera's lens inject her work with an element of chance. obscuring details and splattering the image with random streaks

surprised at what turns out


It is the decipherable elements of Thor’ncycroft's photographs which are most disturbing. ller Freudian allusions and hermaphrodite personas. the fake genitals transforming her body. challenge our preconceptions of sexual identity. In Until/ed (Bride) (1990). Thorncycroft is both woman and baby. wearing over-blown plastic breasts while floating. foetus-like. amid a pool of plants. In (hint/ml (Bin/- Boy) ( l‘)‘)2). she takes on the body of a boy. his form disappearing into a mass of feathers. Stretching the idea of autobiography to uncomfortable lengths. she mimics the physique of father. boy. mother. girl and even fish woman. claiming each as ‘self—portraits'.

Beyond the more haekncyed idea ofexploring sexuality. 'l‘horneycroft is investigating the imagery . of memory. Plastic dolls. toy planes. satin and lace

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(One draped over an armchair form assemblages of personal associations which recapture pieces of her own history. livei'ybotlys dreams and hidden demons may not be so elaborate or adventurous. nor their symbols so literally l’reudian. but the theme of A Slow Renir'ni/n'ri/re concerns a process which she considers universal. 'l‘horneycroft is inspired by the belief that we all carry a memory within our body of things from the day we were born. though we may not remember either the earliest or the most traumatic moments of our lives until later in life.

What is exciting about her work is the way in which she attempts to capture this organic mental process through a form which is essentially theatrical and artificial. While she boldly enacts her on n fantasies. forcing the internal subconscious to be external and consciously direct. her work may provoke delight or disgust but inevitably intrigues and leads the viewer's imagination to haunting and erotic places.

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en Anne Chair) 1994 by Diana Thorneycrott

What’s in a name?

1 Is your name David? If so.

you could find your photograph adorning your local bus stop this month. Tanya Stephan looks at the work of photographer Micah Lexier, the man behind the camera.

You may be puzzled when posters of anonymous ‘Davids' start appearing at

your local bus stop this month. Davids of every shape. form and size. one from every age between one and seventy— five. are aligned. grid-like. in series of twenty-live. This is not the latest Benetton campaign. so who are they and why are they there'.’

Their presence at Adshel sites all around Scotland can be traced back to one simple question: ‘ls your name l)avid'.". Launching a great media whirl two years ago in the papers and on the radio in Winnipeg. Canada. this was not a search for missing persons or for the witness to a crime. The artist. Micah Lexier. wanted to find Davids or more precisely men. boys. and babies randomly selected to represent the stages in the life span of the average male (which is 75 years according to the Canadian Global Almanac). Lexier was swamped by over 600 callers wanting tojoin his artistic project. In a

78 The List 6-l9 Oct I995