bodysnatchers By Stella Whalley London, England: Sugar Pink, 1999
Marie Anne Mancio, (essay from bodysnatchers): “[Stella Whalley’s work] takes the form of the photographic print from performance, drawings etchings and embroideries of solitary personae in diverse settings – bedroom, clinic, bathroom, church.
Whalley ‘stars’ in all the photographs herself so that, despite the apparent veracity of the scenarios, they are exposed as fictional constructs. This is particularly interesting in light of the subjects the photographs address – medicine, porn, religion – areas with a history of theatricality, of fiction posing as reality. Thus the viewer is invited to question the nature of representation in other contexts also – from the photographs in medical journals or textbooks to the centrefolds of pornographic magazines. “Obviously, there is also a feminist statement inherent in Whalley’s act of taking such control over the image: setting it up, performing it, photographing it, manipulating it, determining its display.”
There is the naked woman in a bath chair (‘Chair lift’), who is trapped between unseen voyeurs, us as viewers behind her, an open window in front. And these highlight how the body is deprived of privacy in medical institutions.’
Marie Anne Mancio, (essay from bodysnatchers):
Stella Whalley: “It was some time in 1998 that I started working with self portraits. I found myself in a moment of contemplation, where I wanted to go back in time, trying to relate my thoughts to what kind of person I was as a child. At the same time somebody lent me some studio lights which meant that I could photograph myself as those characters of me as a child, re-enacting some of the experiences I had. The fact that I could use the studio lights in the privacy of my own home, meant that I could play with performance and role playing without feeling I was doing it in front of an audience. There is a difference in doing it in front of a camera just to yourself, you control the camera and the whole set up”.