(Australia 1974 – )
74.9 x 99.9 cm image/sheet; 89.0 x 106.0 x 4.3 cm frame
Cherine Fahd’s work broadly explores the relationship between bodies and sculpture, often to surreal effect. Active as a photographer since the late 1990s, Fahd’s trajectory has moved from simple portraits of her family wearing fabricated plaster creations, to street shots where the subject is unaware of being photographed and, more recently, various forms of self portraiture. In all guises, Fahd employs some way of ‘sculpting’ the body for the camera.
The ‘Plinth piece’ series references the history of art through documenting studies of figurative sculptures, which are traditionally placed atop plinths. ‘Study for woman bitten by a snake’ seems to be a comical reference to Auguste Clésinger’s 1847 sculpture of the same name, held in the Musée d’Orsay. The writhing naked body with a snake coiled around the wrist created by Clésinger was seen to be highly sexualised, furthered by the fact it was based on a plaster cast moulded from life.
Fahd’s take is different, though she also uses a live body (her own) and a form of reproduction to generate an image of it. Fahd depicts herself face-down, defeated – or ‘planking’ – on a human-size plinth. The plinth motif is crucial to a reading of this work, as indicated by its foregrounding in the frame and the series title. Fahd sees the plinth as an ‘objectifying tool’ like the camera, and it is significant that she places her own body on it, ‘performing [herself] as an artwork’.1 What is not made immediately clear, however, is the very fact that this is the artist’s body.
By combining elements of traditional collage, digital photomontage techniques and rephotographing a photograph of children’s Play-Doh, Fahd ‘created a facade to reimagine the body as overwhelming flesh’ so that all we see is mounds of white in a vague figurative shape. This particular work uses white on white to create a subtle play of texture and shadow. Some strands of hair, toenails and a sliver of an arm are the only hints that there is indeed a human body within this photo-sculptural montage.
1. Cherine Fahd, ‘Plinth piece’, ‘Plinth Piece: Cherine Fahd’, Galerie pompom exhibition catalogue, April 2014
Galerie pompom, Plinth Piece: Cherine Fahd, Sydney, 2014.