Photos: Womanspeak: Foreign Flesh

by Beauchamp Art

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Womanspeak: Foreign Flesh

Documentation of the Foreign Flesh performance by Elizabeth Loughran and Kirstin Bicker.

This performance initially involved Elizabeth and Kirstin standing face to face, with tongues extended, touching at the tip. Following this, Kirstin stood aside and other members of the audience were invaded todo the same. There was a fair pause after each person stood aside, and Kirstin had to return to the platform intermittently. Moreover, although the audience featured a mixture of males and females, it was evident that the male figures were more tentative about approaching and participating, and only the people Lizzie new well approached. But after a few female participants, Charlie became the first male to be involved, which did indeed shift the mechanics.

But, as the final two images taken by Kirstin reveal, I then transitioned from the role of spectator to being directly involved. Due to the height difference, and the close proximity with which I stood, this involved me hunching over, and as other observed afterwards, thereby looking pre-human, devolved, effectively representing the role of the photographer as a malformed viewer. This also indicated the shift in relationship between the performers and audience, who mostly stood straight-faced, but would occasionally break into grinning, due to a combination of the underlying oddness of the breach of social norms and sharing of intimate personal space and contact, but also the potential sexual connotations associated with physical contact between orifices.

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Whereas The Mechanics of the Fluid posited the salt-dough’s bone-hue, the focal point of these images was invariably Lizzie’s protruding tongue, therefore I extrapolated the ruddy, flesh tones across the figures. Moreover, I wanted to include more of the crowd, who were also acting as part of the performance (actively and passively), and the area behind them featuring a range of light sources, I had to manually mask of and neutralise all of the surrounding white walls. For the rest of the picture, I reduced the Vibrancy but slightly increased the saturation, so that the overall colour range would be reduced, but those colours that remained would be at a reasonable level.

However, due to the soft boundary between the figure and the background, a glow is evident that illustrates the transition between the modified exposure and colour levels and the figures (this also is commonly associated with high-dynamic-range photography), so it may have been useful to have made some of the adjustments more delicately. Although despite this, I still made a number of local lighting adjustments to each photo, slightly illuminating the faces, adding particular highlights to the eyes and tongue, as key attention loci. I also wanted to make sure the figures standing in front of the far window were not silhouetted which required some additional reduction of highlights and contrast alterations.

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Additional photographs by Kirstin Bicker.