Gina Phillips

Artist Statement

 What began as a photo-sculptural investigation into gender roles and identity evolved over time into a broader examination of photography’s indexical nature and its complex role in portraying identity.  The resulting binaries created are examined and intentionally conflated and collapsed. Syzygy is comprised of four parts:  photographs printed on copper mesh and manipulated into low relief; their ephemeral, projected shadows; prints on paper created as a byproduct of the copper mesh printing process; and photograms made from the copper sculptures. By foregrounding photography as simultaneously indexical and symbolic, I explore the ultimate question of authentic identity. I am specifically interested in the ontology of photography and its relationship to human psychology and identity. Because the photographic images of faces and other body parts printed on copper mesh are manipulated into a low relief, they speak to the ways that we figuratively carve and shape our identities. The malleability of the copper mesh is intended as a reference to the ephemeral and vulnerable human condition and the shadows cast by these translucent screens speak to Jung’s shadow aspect of the subconscious. The photographs printed on copper are fragmented. This creates a dialogue between the part and the whole and can be read as an exploration of the multiplicity of physical, psychological and sexual identity. The term, “syzygy,” is defined by Jung as the state of harmonious combination of female and male energy present in each individual in the subconscious needed in order for balance and wholeness. Concepts of female/male, shadow/light, impression/projection, individual/collective, positive/ negative, and conscious/subconscious are deliberately conflated and intentionally complicated. Seemingly opposite they are semiotic relationships in which one cannot exist without the other.

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