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Alice Maher (1956-)

Collar, 2003

Catalogue essay by Blanche Llewellyn.

Collar is part of a series of eleven staged tableaux – with Renaissance portraiture as a reference and featuring Alice Maher, the artist herself, as the model.

In her work, which includes sculpture, video, photography, animation and installations, Maher frequently makes use of found objects and materials. In this series, she uses them to “dress” herself  – blurring the boundaries between the body and substance, between the inside and the outside realms.

Whether it’s a helmet of snails, a crown of twigs, a necklace of tongues, a collar of hearts, a sleeve of yew –  Maher uses these natural objects to convey the body undergoing metamorphosis. When Maher posed for these portraits, the very essence of her likeness seemingly turned inside out, yielding something entirely new – an alternative portrayal of herself. Maher invests her self-portraits with a profound knowledge of the perverted and terrifying natural world. Yet, these disturbing subjects don’t evoke true fear. Instead, they convey a playful astonishment of self- transformation, highlighting the body’s ability to manifest imaginings.

In Collar, the contrast of the black background with the rich colour and almost macabre texture of the collar of hearts, gives the portrait an opulence that compliments the simplicity of the pose, blending old and new, funny and profound, to great effect.

Maher places histories and symbolism of femininity at the centre of her work, subverting the traditional gaze to critically engage with the discourses around female representation.

x W61cm
Lambda print.
Alice Maher

Alice Maher (1956-)

Artworks by the same artist