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Stripping Sight Bare : Alison Jones’ ‘Portraits by Proxy’

Hadley, Bree (2010) Stripping Sight Bare : Alison Jones’ ‘Portraits by Proxy’. In Australasian Association for Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (ADSA) Conference 2010, July 2010, Canberra, Australia. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

In this paper I analyse UK artist Alison Jones’ sonic interventions Portrait of the Artist by Proxy (2008), Voyeurism by Proxy (2008) and Art, Lies and Audio Tapes (2009). In Portrait of the Artist by Proxy, Jones – who, due to deteriorating vision, has not seen her reflection in a mirror in years – asks and trusts participants to audio-describe her own image back to her. In Voyeurism by Proxy, Jones asks participants to audio-describe erotic drawings by Gustav Klimt. In Art, Lies and Audio Tapes, Jones asks participants to audio-describe other artworks, such as W.F. Yeames’ And When Did You Last see Your Father?. In these portraits by proxy, Jones opens her image, and other images, to interpretation. In doing so, Jones draws attention to the way sight is privileged as a mode of access to fixed, fundamental truths in Western culture – a mode assumed to be untainted by filters that skew perception of the object. “In a culture where vision is by far the dominant sense,” Jones says, “and as a visual artist with a visual impairment, I am reliant on audio-description …Inevitably, there are limitations imposed by language, time and the interpreter’s background knowledge of the subject viewed, as well as their personal bias of what is deemed important to impart in their description” . In these works, Jones strips these background knowledges, biases and assumptions bare. She reveals different perceptions, as well as tendencies or censor, edit or exaggerate descriptions. In this paper, I investigate how, by revealing unconscious biases, Jones’ works renders herself and her participants vulnerable to a change of perception. I also examine how Jones’ later editing of the audio-descriptions allows her to show the instabilities of sight, and, in Portrait of the Artist by Proxy, to reclaim authorship of her own image.

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ID Code: 39910
Item Type: Conference Paper
Keywords: Performance, Disability, Spectatorship, Alison Jones
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
Divisions: Current > Schools > Drama
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 the author.
Deposited On: 07 Feb 2011 11:09
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2011 00:53

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