I've just discovered the costume photography of Carin Ingalsbe via a wonderful blog called Sweetpea Path. In the cabaret series, Ingalsbe has photographs of costumes from a collection of over 200 dresses worn by a cabaret performer who is now in her 90's. They a poignant portraits of the act of wearing femininity. They are also a moving depiction of the beautiful detritis a woman leaves behind as she ages.
When I go to second hand stores and look at clothes that have been previously worn, I am inspired to imagine whose life animated them and what secret stories the pockets and pleats hold. In pieces like Con Stars and 100 Housewives I created personas from inspiration taken directly from the used clothing. In these pieces the personas I create are a performed and improvised fiction. The fictional personas I create are made from fantasies born out of the frustrations with the limits of being a woman. The irony and some of the humor comes from the realization that even the fictions I create are crippled by preconceptions of what femininity is and allows me to be at the time I create the piece. As I have struggled to liberate myself from the pitfalls and traps that womanhood seems plagued with, I have struggled to become a person that doesn't let gender get in the way of their potential. As I am now an aging woman, I find that it's even more difficult to throw off the limitations of society's views of what being a woman (at this ages) means. It's disheartening, but it's another subject to make work about. If I don't make work about it, I'll just get caught in the same traps over and over again and my world will get smaller and smaller.
The costumes in my closets and chests are full of the memories I have of celebrating the fictional female and I'm not done yet.
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