Gretchen Holmes (MFA 2005)
I believe there is expansive critical potential present in ordinary performances of feminine gender and am particularly interested in the ironic, paradoxical conceptions of femininity women continuously enact. However, many strategies available to women performing feminism necessitate some reiteration of the very femininity they aim to subvert; in my work I develop this tension, provoking a collapsible notion of critical distance and mixing self-parody with feminist theory until sugar dissolves. My work challenges the viewer to distinguish between critique and re-presentation, parody and imitation. Discreetly inserting my own identity into the roles I present and characters who play them, I refract the work's seemingly explicit feminist codes to reveal the factors that legitimize and empower their expression.
Working primarily in video and performance allows me to exploit those medias' implicit art object/art maker conflation in conjuncture with other feminist strategies (masquerade, psychoanalysis, visceral imagery, self-surveillance, parody) as I explore a trajectory connecting contemporary feminine identity to feminism's tactical performance. I choreograph the work's appropriation of these strategies throughout the duration of each piece and focus attention on each image's iconic potential with simple framing and subtlety stylized production details. Cliches deform, pervert, blister, and scab up; they try to mutate beyond recognition, but never do. In each role, a viewer might find an amalgamation of characters and strategies, all acted out in the space between feminist theory and my own everyday feminine performance practice, where there is just enough distance for criticism and some room for irony.