Blouse by JH Zane
Shirt by Recto, top and skirt by JH Zane and shoes vintage
Neck band by J.W. Anderson
Skirt by Joseph, dress and shoes by Adam Jones
Dress by Adam Jones
Dress by Kyo Yun Park, shoes by Antoine & Lili
The word 'grotesque' in itself can be traced back to its Latin roots, 'grotto' and 'esque' - signifying elements that were hidden, dark, earthly, and visceral.
The images in 'A la Henna' have references derived from witch history and the witch hunts that played out a significant chapter in the history of Early Modern Europe. The stereotypical role of witches has been referenced again and again throughout history. As expounded by Sarah Williams in Damnable Practice: Witches, Dangerous Women,and Music in the Seventeenth Century, "witches' bodies were the location of grotesque scrutiny when trial documents report that suspicious old women were often examined for 'devil's marks'."
'A la Henna' has specific references: the striped details from Kyo Yun Park's dress, indirectly mirroring the striped stockings donned on a dead Wicked Witch of the East; first seen in the 1939 Wizard of Oz classic. The colour tone of the images also takes a cue from American photographer William Mortensen's 'Nude with Demon' from a series titled 'A Pictorial Compendium of Witchcraft'.
In a patriarchal society, the male gaze is - and has, for a majority of world history - been the predominant guide in dictating cultural norms of what female body image should entail. My body of work, however, explores an alternate femininity through capturing female body image through the eyes of women.
Whilst challenging predominantly male expectations, my images are intended to push ideas of a non-normative beauty through creating an environment that is somewhat unsettling; a contest between the familiar and unfamiliar.
A conscious decision of styling, hair, make-up and model - ironically feminine in nature - serves to further highlight the impact of normative feminine ideals that have constructed societal norms today. Although feminine elements are exploited throughout my work (as extended to the editorial 'A la Henna'), the final product does not sync with societal norms.
In 'A la Henna' I wanted to expand on the premises of an alternative femininity. Mikhail Baktain, a Russian philosopher, coined the term 'carnivalesque', referring to an abject group of bodies (such as conjoined twins and dwarfs) that were perceived as 'The Other' and subsequently, 'grotesque' in the eyes of the majority.