John Rae

Featured in the Nucleus Arts Beyond Belief exhibition 2016 Chatham Kent

Portrait, the Dual Function.pdf Portrait, the Dual Function.pdf
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The Critique of difference.pdf The Critique of difference.pdf
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Women’s control over representation is not new to photography, in the 1890’s Alice Austin used images to illustrate how she and her friends could “manipulate the semiotics of cultural signs” (Pultz 1995) of clothing, and by painting on facial hair. By donning this masculine costume they were also able to adopt the confidence and authority of men rather than the tender vulnerability coded to more feminine dress. 

A visibly muscled body symbolises masculine power and physical strength, coding the “naturalness of sexual difference” but also historically the proletarian status of manual labour (Benson S. in Woodward 1997). In either case a muscled, masculinised female body is now read as athletic, powerful and strong: another example of the scrambling of gender codes and further exposure of the ubiquitous masquerade.