In my series Marie Claire RIP (2007) I play the role of an unnamed woman, a woman who was repeatedly arrested and photographed by the New York Police Department. Some years after her death, her mug shots were published in ‘Marie Claire’ magazine under the header Diary of a Heroin Addict.
Who was she, this woman? For years she hung over me. I would say I thought of her but it was more like she was etched in my mind. Closing my eyes, she was there.
After several attempts to re-present the mug shots, I finally decided to re-stage them but with myself as subject. In part this was motivated by a desire to memorialise an unnamed person, a woman who had died and had no control over the use of her own image. She had become a kind of talisman to me, friend and fiend, known and unknown, a woman who changes before our eyes and looks back at us, observing her demise. At once the projection space for both my own addiction and annihilation fears, I also wanted her different, rewritten, destination unclear. In my attempt to memorialise an unknowable woman I am of course perpetuating a fiction, but fiction has always been very real to me.
This series, in challenging the veracity of the photographic portrait, also finds an authenticity in a notion of self-portraiture that involves acting. It is me and not her and yet it is her and not me, at the same time. This is how I now see the images in my head, as a conflation, a hybrid, a third character: still a ghost, but one with her own stage show at least.
House of Many Windows curated by Day and Gluckman at Collyer Bristow Gallery, London
Matt Roberts Gallery, London
Photography Triennial, Helsinki
Streetlevel Photoworks, Glasgow
Minnesota Centre of Photography, USA
Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney
Photographers do not bend gallery, Dallas USA
Clampart gallery, New York USA
Bildmuseet Umea, Sweden
Darmstadter tage de fotografie, Germany
Emerging photographers Show, Toronto Canada