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Alison J Carr is an artist. She studied at the California Institute of the Arts, absorbing both the critical dialogue and the lure of the Hollywood facade. Her work weaves together audio, texts, archival and found materials with photographs and performances to interrogate the slippery multi-faceted performance of femininity. Through revealing the hidden mechanisms and staged moments, she wants to bring to light the layers of identity informed by social interaction and contexts, the contradictions in physical bodily display and the divergent techniques of hiding in plain sight—being the dazzling spectacle in the spotlight.
She prises open these spotlight moments in my work by drawing attention to the crafting of identity through entertainment. She does this through a process of bringing in expert voices, building unlikely relationships with retired chorus girls, current showgirls and contrary performers, who play along with her, committing to a period of embarrassed rehearsals and ritual humiliation through public performance.
She is interested in the labour of the performance, the vulnerability of the body, loneliness and lack of talent. She often steps into these awkward moments, implicating myself and the viewer; dancing non-stop to the threshold of painful exhaustion; singing sincerely but imperfectly in a crowded room. She aims to capture a certain irreverence, absurdity tinged with melancholy, foolishness, pleasure—all these layers of live performance, all at the same time. The long exposures of her photographs of theatre interiors reflect aspiration, opulence and dust. The façade and the real. The reality of construction. These resonant and atmospheric spaces are haunted with the trials of optimism and human endeavour, of putting on a show.