Richard Haden: A look at Holly Armishaw

“Silencieux” (see album)

This body of work is the result of an inner dialogue that “re-presents” a
struggle between many influencing factors. The most pressing is the
dichotomy between mind and body-that cursed dualistic thinking that has
so deeply separated humanity from dealing directly with the world. The
relentless persistence of this dichotomy is where a schism ruptures
between the authentic and inauthentic. This schism concerns our inability
to locate or situate identity or to create authentic situations.

The process of visually documenting these roles is itself also a
representation of the struggle to perhaps parody and exorcise the tradition
itself that haunts her “existentiell”. By illuminating the inauthentic act of
conforming to inauthentic identity, Armishaw chooses to leave behind
posed in a frame-that which hangs on most of us as everyday assigned
roles. What I see in Armishaw’s work is just a small yet profound gesture to
distance herself from the marketed pressures wrought on society to further
perpetuate good consuming roles and forged family traditions.

Post dualistic philosophy and thinking teaches us to move on and be
resolute-which is not just the latest fashion of mind, but a greater stand
that we take on being authentic self. This autobiographical “tell all” series
is not an act of victimization, but rather is an attempt at first defiance that is
most liberating in its profound pose.

Armishaw states that “each of these images shines a light on a true
personal experience of emotion, many of which are experienced
repeatedly. I have begun referring to myself as an ‘emotional exhibitionist’
and I recognize my allies as being historic and contemporary figures like
Tracy Emin, Nico, Edith Piaf, Edie Sedgwick and Simone De Beauvoir, to
name just a few. While each of us is a unique woman and artist, we all
carry the badge of ‘La Femme Tragique’ and perhaps alternatively ‘La
Femme Fatale’ as well.”

Ironically and fortunately, the mythological “suffering artistic genius” that
Armishaw is referring to, which was once a monument to patriarchal
normalcy, romantically charged is passe. This over inflated celebrity
“genius” status has been hacked to death by theorists and
historians…thank you.

However, today with the recognition of gender exclusion as Arts
Unfortunate history comes the false awareness of assumed gaps in art
history. From these gaps it is still assumed that too few women artist were
actually presented–or given credit for having actually been involved in that
conveniently made male dominant gap– Its a sordid history that we are
coming to grips with. It’s not to lament a lost share in that sordid illusion of
artistic legacy, but instead it is to continue the relevancy that women have
had all along-but, which has been covertly covered up. For that waning
piece of (HIS)story I am relieved. However, the exclusion from any cultural
history-even the suspect history of male celebrity-is to be presumptively
ignorant even in its waning days–A masculine entitlement is so historically

According to Armishaw, this series will be a constant work in
progress…she has been documenting, fabricating and immortalizing her
“self” for “others” through the camera for well over a decade now. And as
her photography and digital imaging skills continue to evolve, so does her
ability to depict the complex and subtle nuances of masking and fleeing
authentic consciousness-which of course is fleeing in parody, not in reality

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