These collages, constructed from historical and pop-culture archival imagery, aim to address gaze, commodification, and agency as it relates to women and their bodies. The use of archival imagery is representative of the ways in which mainstream cultural memory and intergenerational indoctrination contribute to the socialization of gender and the erasure of opposition to gender norms throughout generations. Whiteness is pervasive throughout much of the imagery used as a result of the lack of representation of diverse women in American archival media, it also reinforces the fact that whiteness was (and is) yet another standard for many to women to contest with. I am interested in the way grouping images can help them take on a new significance and our tendency to believe what we see within the frame of a photograph as true. The images are layered or fragmented in order to produce a conversation focused on the socialization and performance of femininity. These pieces specifically focus on the contrast between activity and passivity and normative standards of beauty. Layering and fragmentation also direct the viewer’s gaze within the frame, adding to the sense of the images believably existing within the same space.The addition of text in these pieces relates to my own experiences with femininity and is included to further direct the audience’s interpretation of the images in relation to their own experiences.
Sydney Ellison is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work addresses themes of gaze and intersectionality primarily through collage and self-portraiture. Sydney is also a student at Pratt Institute and an editor for The Photographer's Greenbook.