Opens Friday 26
May, 6 - 8pm

Continues until
Saturday 17 June 2006

Tin Sheds Gallery
Faculty of Architecture Williamson Building,
148 City Road,
The University of Sydney

Gallery Hours:
11am - 5pm Tuesday - Saturday
mobile 0408 443668
email [email protected]

Transitional Bodies — ceramic/digital installation

While in Tokyo I spent many hours sitting on trains moving through the Yamamoto or inner city subway circuit. This is a continuous loop that traverses the major commercial suburbs of Tokyo. I began to understand that Tokyo train travel is precious "time-out" for its citizens. Although the carriages and views through the train windows are filled with advertising imagery, many passengers use this time to close their eyes and sleep, even while standing with one hand holding the support handle. Train travellers often keep their eyes closed for the duration of their trip having developed an instinct for waking-up at their stop.

These experiences informed the digital/object installation entitled Transitional Bodies. It consists of four naked life-size female figures sitting with closed eyes, as if traversing Tokyo's subway system. I refer to them as transitional figures because they are metaphorically, in between train stops, but also in between sleeping and waking, fixity and action. They embody references to homogeneity but also affirm the distinctness of the individual bodies from which they were cast.

I designed Transitional Bodies with the intention of creating an ambiguous and discordant visual play between commodified and resistant female bodies. They are neither consumed by an overwhelming visual media culture, nor completely immune to its powerful forces. Although their "white" bodies are receptive to projected digital images that are reminiscent of billboards viewed through the train window, they are also resistant to the bombardment of imagery by choosing to visually disconnect from their environment. They do so by closing their eyes. The nakedness of their bodies is another form of resistance. The four figures are not "wrapped" in fashion items but instead reveal the distinctness of unwrapped bodies. They express difference in size and shape, the irregularity of rolls, wrinkles, veins and the imperfect texture of cast skin, specifically through their faces, hands and feet. Yet the nudity of the four figures also discloses different stages of commodification. Some figures are more "naturalistic" while others are like mannequins, referencing the predominant utilisation of white mannequins in Tokyo's retail world.

Digital projections flood the space of the installation with faces and text referencing "whiteness" drawn from advertising imagery in Tokyo. Interspersed with images of the everyday white face are projections of the women whom I met while in Tokyo. Disrupting the continuous flow of "whiteness", these distinct women are also presented like billboards, however the "white protect", "white essence", "white plus" and "whitening source" text taken from cosmetic brochures, has been discarded and replaced with their individual names.

©Copyright 2002-2009 Julie Bartholomew. All rights Reserved R10 Design