Eyre, Sarah (2015) Wigs. FORMAT International Photography Festival and Leeds Arts University..


This output, 'Wigs', is a creative project that investigates the wig in its disembodied state through photography and collage techniques. The cultural iconography of wigs is deeply complex, offering an assortment of poetic associations and historical anchor points. Unpacking this complexity involves a critically-engaged, practice-based approach. Research Process: ‘Wigs’ has been informed by a documentary study into the vestiges and detritus left lying around in a red-light district in Manchester. Eyre became interested in collecting fallen hair pieces (artificial extensions, weaves, etc) as found objects that she regularly discovered in the street. These were graphic metaphors for what went on in the area, either as evidence of broken femininity, quite literally ‘fallen woman’, or as symbols of the underlying violence that the women risked working there. The project utilised wigs as a way of abstracting from the specifics of the sex industry in order to explore female sexual identity in broader terms. Research Insights: Confusion hangs over an abandoned wig. Amputated from their intended context, they trigger a very deep-seated sense of the unease. The minimal, forensic style of photography further emphasises their link to the uncanny. They are inert, they pose no danger; yet they look like they could unfurl, at any moment, and come to life. The photographs are titled according to the names given to the wigs by manufacturers. However, by trying to adopt certain personalities, they highlight their ambiguity, and speak of a lack of interior and the fragility of identity – in this case the representation of female desirability and sexuality. Dissemination: Images from this project were exhibited at QUAD Derby as part of the Format International Photography Festival (2015) and at Leeds Art University (2019) under the heading ‘Copy/Cut/Paste’ with an accompanying interpretation text by collage expert Dr Freya Gowrley (University of Derby).

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