February 7 - March 8 1998
Kathy Waghorn's practice can be located within an increasingly
comprehensive body of recent art that draws on records of police
procedure for its subject matter - what might be called 'evidentiary
Subsequent to a 1995 Moet & Chandon fellowship Waghorn collaborated
with curator Heather Galbraith on an installation at JAGO Gallery
in London, titled #1
Composite, where viewers were encouraged to make sketches
of Waghorn based on physical descriptions obtained from her acquaintances
in police-style interviews. In conjunction with the exhibition similar
drawings were anonymously pasted up at locations near the gallery
that were frequented by the artist: restaurants, cafés, bars,
shops . In appearance these simplified and stylised impressions
are reminiscent of the identikit sketches of missing and wanted
persons that are flashed at us on the TV news every night, or stare
back at us from the newspaper during breakfast.
The police identikit sketch is an attempt to render its subject
as truthfully as possible, a process of distillation intended to
call a person into being by capturing the essence of their identity
in a single image. Accompanying this flattening of identity is a
sense of precariousness, the feeling that something has been lost
in the translation.
'Where is she?' ask the fliers for #2 Composite at The Physics
Room. 'Can you find her?' Like the collection of identikit pictures
exhibited in London, the surveillance photographs covering the wall
in this exhibition negate the possibility of a secure interpretation.
The images we see of women with their faces turned away from the
camera are like an accumulation of evidence, but evidence of what?
Building backwards, Waghorn's project invites the viewer to play
detective, reconstructing an identity from the fleeting traces of
its presence. Who are these women? The artist? Victims? Perpetrators?
What crime has been committed? Any attempt to locate meaning within
a fixed vector of cause and effect is rewarded only with frustration,
the viewers' inquiry dispersed in a complex web of connections and
possibilities. In this process identity and image are revealed as
fictional constructions, the artists' own fluid presence in the
work impossible to define except in relation to its absence.