I Never Recognized Her Except in Fragments

“Sometimes I recognized a region of her face, a certain relation of nose and forehead, the movement of her arms, her hands. I never recognized her except in fragments, which is to say that I missed her being, and that therefore I missed her altogether. It was not she, and yet it was no one else… I was struggling among images partially true, and therefore totally false.” [1]

Hannah Doucet looks at images of women; both private and public, and particularly those within mainstream media outlets. Most of what Doucet sees are fragmented women – distorted bodies, recognizable as what they are, but only through the summation of their parts. Within this body of work, Doucet probes these tropes of fragmentation and distortion that she observes in contemporary culture.

Through photographs, video and sculpture, I Never Recognized Her Except in Fragments grapples with issues of representation and materiality inherent in the medium of photography. By privileging the flat mirror (whether as an object or as a mechanical component within a camera) and the flat photograph for our understanding of our bodies, we create for ourselves a false two-dimensional body. The exhibition contains images of bodies printed on fabric, which through physical manipulation of the fabric become moldable, textural, and versatile objects, further distorting the body. Through a repetition of imagery and a process of re-photographing, an overt tension is created between representation and the material presence of the photographic object. By addressing the materiality of a photograph the physicality of women’s bodies is simultaneously addressed. Through the creation of a shifting, undulating surface to the image, you are forced to look beyond the referent and to consider it for what it is – a two dimensional representation of something three-dimensional. What are the implications of this shift of dimensionality? The work within this exhibition struggles to re-insert materiality within two-dimensional representations of women, a clumsy and impossible task. 

[1] Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 65-66