Julia Andrews-Clifford has worked in the creative industries since the late-nineties as a part of organisations such as the British Film Institute and the Museum of Moving Image, New York. Therefore it is no surprise to find a depth, and awareness of the function of images in her artwork that very clearly has its roots in film. However it is in this moment of social uncertainty and the age of the Facebook meme that Andrews-Clifford has turned her attention to pulling apart film and imagery, not only analytically but literally, in her first solo exhibition at The blackShed Gallery.
Andrews-Clifford makes photomontage with a clean, confident intention. The graphic quality of her works clearly derives from the ripping of text and images from advertising, fashion magazines and vintage publications. But while the process may be destructive; the result is crisp, portraying an underlying intention that goes beyond a simple subversion of her sources. Andrews-Clifford’s practice has grown from her interest in psychoanalytic film theory. In itself quite an esoteric area of film criticism, however it’s relevance not only to film but to many aspects of modern life is revealing of the underlying systems that dictate our behaviour. Most significantly for Andrews-Clifford in our relationship with advertising and film publicity. Since the middle of the last Century, the use of highly sexualised imagery has been used as a very successful means of selling which Andrews-Clifford grapples with in her practice. Much of her source material is drawn from print advertisements and even installing her own subverted versions over billboards as statement guerrilla artwork. Despite the sharp-edged finish to her works, there is a jarring quality to Andrews-Clifford’s compositions that leaves an underlying ambiguity that rings of the post modern – everything is definite but nothing is certain.
In recent years, photomontage has seen a resurgence as its digital equivalent, the meme, has risen as a means for satirical comment in the digital sphere. In Andrews-Clifford’s work however she seeks to confront issues more directly; she provokes consideration of the position of women through her work. Her feminist position especially deals with the male gaze and points out its pervading presence in our culture and society, an objective that seems ever more necessary to reach for in this post – Trump era. As a result, much of her source material comes from the middle of the 20th Century, especially employing imagery of the starlet of the post-war era.
Andrews-Clifford’s knowledge of film always underpins her work and this collection marks a sort of appraisal of our time. Having looked back over the last Century and considering the power of the women making films in the 1920s, looking on to the strong ‘femme fatale’ of the 30s and 40s, the role of women changed after the war and female characters were put in far more domestic roles. The rise of second wave feminism fought back in the 70s, and the shift in postmodernism through the 80s led to the ‘ladette’ culture and the feeling that ‘everything is going to be alright, we can do what we want’ in the 90s. However the inauguration of President Trump has caused Andrews-Clifford to wonder if we are not about to see another shift? Where does the locker-room end and the Oval Office begin?
In this body of work, Andrews-Clifford confronts what she perceives to be a new trend of ‘porno chic’. She has identified the growing use of highly sexualised poses in fashion magazines to the point of being pornographic. She wishes to highlight these provocative poses and create a moment of realisation in our passive consumption of media. While also making a record of what it is to be a women today, she says: “In all my work I take a feminist stance while looking at the domestic sphere of woman, how they are used to sell and how they are sold to.”
Read the original post on The Black Shed Gallery here.