Behold, be still : MFA thesis presented to the Faculty of Fine Arts, CoCA, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts

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Massey University
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behold, be still illuminates my predilection, that of a portrait photographer, which is driven by a fascination with viewing and collecting the ‘other’, the male, now extending into this suite of still moving portraits. Through this act and in my art practice, I uncover the vulnerabilities, both for myself and for my subjects, as they are offered for scrutiny on screen to become ‘public’, unlike their previous position in my photographic archive, which is private. I reveal for the first time my pathology in the drive to collect surrogates and stand-ins, to console the loss and give solace for the absence of one- revealing a latent scopophilia. Photography histories, specifically portraiture, and the moving image are discussed, focusing on the binaries of the medium/s, their reflective and reflexive qualities, and their inherent ability to reveal and conceal. My visual inquiry is an expansion to experiencing the portrait by presenting the sitters as close to ‘themselves’ via the medium of high definition video portraits. I expel the implications of women looking at men, and review the work of both significant and historical feminine influences and contemporary women artists positioned and working in this territory and who employ both film and photography. I highlight Victorian women and the melancholic age, where photography is deeply embedded, tracing the origins and lineage to my current work. I seek to define and locate the notion of a beautiful masculine, investigating what it is to view, receive, and collect between the axis of photography and video via the intimate exchange and operatives of my gendered and privileged gaze. The success is determined by the tension between these two machines and resulting portraits, as the act in sitting for a portrait with the technology of today, renders a more ‘accurate’ portrayal. From this the moving portrait completes the desire and an opportunity to obtain and possess the beloved after their absence. Crucial issues become apparent as I examine the imprint of the real in the photograph, the camera as a surrogate for myself, and the passive yet consensual subject.
Portrait photography, Video portraits