b. 1987, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, New Zealander
2010 Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) University of Canterbury
Audrey Baldwin is a Christchurch based artist and a graduate of the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. Her practice is largely performance-based and centres around the body as a fraught space of constant contention.
Her influences include 1960’s body art, feminism and gender theory.
Using live performance, photography and video, she investigates themes such as identity, power, control and methods of creating/maintaining these things. Everyday actions and routines are key fodder for reframing in an absurd and/or ritualistic manner in order to destabilise their embedded and accepted notions and values.
Night Watch took place in an empty shop window on a busy Saturday night in Sol Square, a bustling bar alley in the CBD. I sat in the window – still but not unmoving – for 4 hours as revellers made their way back and forth between bars.
I aimed to address the politics of the gaze and examine expectations around the role of the audience. As the performance progressed, spectators stayed to watch the watchers. Their own act of looking was reflected back at them by a backdrop of mirrors behind me. The performance became less about the my candle-wearing composition and more about the social reactions on the other side of the glass.
The politics of consumption and the ambiguous roles of object/subject are under scrutiny in my performance/installation Canker. The performance took place at the Blue Oyster Gallery in Dunedin as part of the Performance Series, in conjunction with the Dunedin Fringe Festival. The piece consisted of a toffee-paned framework in which I was enclosed for a durational performance. I used only my tongue and teeth to break out of my candy confinement over the course of 2 and a half hours.
Simultaneously occupying the role of subject and object, artist and eye-candy; I literally ate away at the hard angles of my sculpture. The audience, strongly implicated as voyeurs, watched a piece that started off as sensual and suggestive gradually morph into an absurd and grotesque labour of lunacy.
I utilise my work to probe and destabilize meanings embedded in (Western) society’s ideals and norms. My key interest lies in the body – as both the subject and site of my work. Through live performance, video, photography and installation, I investigate themes such as identity, power, control and dualities such as public/private, abject/erotic and subject/object.
Elements of voyeurism, excess and absurdity are strong motifs in my practice, as are banal objects, ingredients and actions. Through a process of repetition, reframing and examining embedded and accepted cultural meanings, I hope to unsettle and raise questions about them.
Themes such as the Gaze, power relationships, sexuality/gender and identity are all present throughout my work. But at its core, my practice is an exploration and a critique of how we view and construct ourselves according to mainstream ideals.
I like to highlight just how bizarre society’s effect on our bodies is, by taking every day actions into the realm of the excessive. The roles of consumption, excess and absurdity in my work are key to communicating and embodying my ideas.
Consider and discuss why Baldwin would subject her body to public displays of self imposed discomfort.
How do you think Audrey Baldwin’s use of her own body would challenge and confront the viewer and their experience of her artwork?
Performance, public/private, provocative, Marina Abromovic, abject/erotic, the body, feminine identity, feminism, endurance, power and control, gender/sexuality, Hannah Wilke, “the gaze”, voyeurism, Janine Antoni.
Links and websites