Shedding all extraneous layers
Labels Off is a project of self-narrativization that builds emotional truth through a series of carefully staged and digitally manipulated photographs which acknowledge a woman's body as her most active and activating canvas as opposed to the depiction of the female nude as part of a revered tradition that allows her no agency to take authority over the depiction of her nudity; in Carolee Schneemann's words, allows her no choice but "simply to be available".
What happens if all labels are torn off? When all skin's shed? When all blood's bled? How to confine one's essence within the arbitrary layers of social expectations & obligations? It is easy to lean into the obvious but it is important to be reminded that relatability to women's plight does not amount to solidarity especially given how women are encouraged to lean into the obvious, to embrace it, and in the process, to render any resistance pointless.
Seeped in bejeweled colors, these photographs are an invitation to ongoing conversation on the tension between defiant hope and sober realism with its ultimate horizon of a body without fear rather than bland assent on how the body is kept compliant by internalized prejudices and external forces. To this end the deliberately statuesque nature of the women, jumping from one photograph to the next, speaks to their right to preserve an authentic sense of self, their bodies open and insatiable, unwilling to diminish themselves in order to fit into the strict confines of society's definition of a woman as a voiceless, traditional and non-threatening presence.
Hannah Wilke (...To diffuse self-prejudice, women must take control of and have pride in the sensuality of their bodies and create a sensuality in their own terms, without referring to the concepts degenerated by society...), Judy Chicago (...Because we are denied knowledge of our history, we are deprived of standing upon each other's shoulders and building upon each other's hard-earned accomplishments. Instead, we are condemned to repeat what others have done before us and thus continue to reinvent the wheel...) and Carolee Schneemann (...The female nude is part of a revered tradition, although she is not to take authority over her depictions of her nudity. She is just to be available...) are the godmothers of this series.
- Visual Influences
Hannah Wilke - "To diffuse self-prejudice, women must take control of and have pride in the sensuality of their bodies and create a sensuality in their own terms, without referring to the concepts degenerated by society."
Carolee Schneemann - "The female nude is part of a revered tradition, although she is not to take authority over her depictions of her nudity. She is just to be available."