Portfolio > Defense Mechanism

Gender roles are strongly communicated through dress. In my work, I wear my opinions and emotions. Dress defines identity. Defense Mechanism is a hand-knit reflective dress-mask. It does two things: integrate and separate. It is integrated in the dark but separated when it is lit. The garment is made of a yarn designed with minute glass beads that reflect light, causing it to be illuminated in the dark. The reflective yarn communicates with the viewer only in very specific moments where the light comes behind the viewer and reflects onto the yarn and back into the eyes of the viewer. Peeling, is a video that captures this effect. The video follows my progress from being fully masked and clothed, to being peeled, unmasked and unclothed by a second figure, a male, who appears as a shadow on the garment and gently peels the dress-mask off of me. In this work, being unmasked and unclothed is synonymous with being invisible. This action of peeling/unclothing makes the body disappear. As my body disappears, his body appears, creating an uncanny moment in which my body disappears into the dark. As a result, the reflective garment momentarily illuminates both the man and myself so that we appear equal in the dark. The viewers feel the tension between the genders: I allow the man to unclothe me; by doing so, I shed barriers, but also appeases him, a fact that renders me invisible. The back and forth play of visibility and invisibility alludes to imprecise psychological boundaries in intimate relationships.