AICA-SC reports: Interview with Shirley RufinFriday, January 18th, 2013 Categories: Interview, Updates
Dominique Brebion, founding member of AICA- Southern Caribbean and the arts advisor to the Regional Cultural Affairs Board of Martinique, interviews emerging photographer Shirley Rufin.
Dominique Brebion: How do you define your work and artistic practice?
Shirley Ruffin: My work questions both our perception of nudity and how to use best the photographic medium. I deal with nudity as a common taboo in our Martinican post-colonial society, which otherwise witnesses the excessive exposure of the Carnival period. The starting point of my work is the scandal caused in the nineteenth century by the naked woman in Edouard Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’Herbe –Lunch in the Meadow- which I used for my final exams as a three-dimension remix in a feminine perspective reversing the roles: in my version it is the man who is naked. My work questions the contemporary practices of the remix, of sociological investigation and photographic experimentation.
DB: You mention experimenting with photography. Can you expand on this aspect of your research and creativity?
SR: Body metamorphosis, distorting the body to make it anonymous and impossible to identify, become for me, a way to confront the taboo of nudity. The use of a camera allows me to operate this device in several steps. Starting from a classical photo on paper which is burnt with acid and then pressed under a copper plate, the body alteration is achieved. Finally, I take a digital photograph which is enlarged and printed on Plexiglas to reveal the work. What is left are isolated remains on a dark background, a vain chimera.
Vain means pretentious and narcissistic; like a Narcissus venerating his own beauty undoubtedly, but also reminiscent of this category of still life, Vanitas, or allegories of the precariousness of our life.
DB: Is there some part of chance in producing such pictures?
SR: There is much less accident today because I learnt how to master the process. After many unexpected discoveries while experimenting, I learnt to control the process of alteration achieved through the placement and consideration of acid, copper and time.
DB: You use the term Mental archeology to describe the images, what exactly are you referring to?
SR: Mental archeology –or mental images- means that we must understand the memorized or imagined representations from our brains that have been formed without direct visual stimulation. If this mental imagery is not the direct result of perception, it is otherwise based on our past visual activity and combines with our own capacity of imagination to produce new mental images. So, with this notion we must associate the representations of objects, ideas and concepts, as well.
I associate this ‘mental archeology’ with the notion of reconstitution as the images make up the fully artificial recreations of something in order to reproduce an aspect or a particular state of mind. These images have a double nature as they come from the conscious and/or unconscious part of us.
Translation by Suzanne Lampla . To follow AICA-SC visit them on facebook