Quiet by Sophie McIntyre

Webster challenges the boundaries of perception and convention, focusing on the body, as a signifier of identity and as a site of desire, to examine established codes of representation. Performance is central to her work, as the subject often unwittingly assumes a role or a ‘pose’ that s/he plays out for camera thus masking her/his true identity. Webster states, ‘posing is a process whereby each time a new body or self is created’, and it is this ‘transformative act’ that captures the artist’s interest.

In this recent series of photographic diptychs, Webster focuses her lens on the male body to explore issues relating to the construction of gender, and what she describes as the ‘cliché of the brute as a fantasy construct’. While watching a boxing match, the artist was transfixed by the ‘theatre of violence’ that unfolded - an experience she describes as akin to being in a sex club.

In these photographs, the artist strips away the boxers’ mask of masculinity to expose his naked vulnerability and innate ‘beauty’. These traits, which might be coded as ‘feminine’, are further highlighted by the soft embroidered patterns and the washed out hues of timeworn fabric one might associate with childhood, domesticity and intimacy. Implicit in these works is a subtext relating to the re-presentation of gender through the photographic medium and how gender roles are constructed and perceived.

© Sophie McIntyre 2004, Director, Adam Art Gallery, Wellington
From catalogue for Quiet exhibition