'Tender' exhibition at Sauerbier House, 2018

Tender presents  alluring photography from Brianna Speight’s Soft Assemblies (2017) and Skinand Stone (2018) series, and a new video work. Exploring developments inpractice and research, Tender presents a sensitive and confrontationalvoice that shows a continued drive to express concern for female health,femininity and agency.

The relationship between soft assemblies andskin and stone could be described in terms of awareness and desire toimpact change. The first series is a personal and self-reflective confrontationwith language and assumption that perpetuates patriarchal and heteronormativesystems of power. The latter series, Skin and Stone presents earlyexperimentations with notions of agency and accountability. This recent workbegins to question inherited knowledge and debates between biologicaldeterminism and social constructivism, asking; what, if anything, about my bodyis inherent and fixed, and what is environmental and subject to change?

The photographs in Tender, alluring inthemselves, are as much performative utterances as they are photographs,directly referencing a turn in contemporary photography since the 1970’s. Thisphotographic turn, underpinned by critical theory, uses various methods ofstaging or appropriation to question representations of race, gender orsexuality. Speight’s scenes display ambiguity in their surreal combinations ofmaterial and body that resist pictorial or referential reading. This ambiguityinvites space to create new readings for the relationship and feelingconstructed between body and material. Various fabrics, biomorphic objects andthe hidden and revealed body conjure visceral responses that invites a certainconfrontation for the viewer. This confrontation or tension speaks to personalnegotiations with femininity, systems of knowledge and power surroundingwomen’s health and agency.

Using Format