I explored female identity by combining historical facts, images, personal experience and a bit of fantasy to create a new narrative. I begin by appropriating and scanning 19th century tintypes which I manipulate creating a digital collage. I name each woman so that she has a personal identity.
The impact of the industrial revolution along with Darwin’s study in biological determination caused a gender gap between men and women during the 19th century. It was understood that men and women had completely different natures. Darwin assigned traits to both men and women and these traits determined how each should function in society.
In this series I combine tintype cases and female torsos along with vintage botanical drawings. The cases represent the isolation and limited opportunities that were imposed upon women during that era. The absence of faces are due to the fact that women had no identity, they had few rights and were considered property of their husbands. The botanicals refer to the “Language of Flowers” a popular 19th century pastime used as a non verbal way to communicate coded messages in an era when direct emotional verbal communication was considered taboo in proper Victorian society. Each flower represents one of the assigned female traits.
Below is a list of both male and female traits.
Susceptible to madness Hysteria
Abe to resist temptation Unable to resist temptation
Sexual/Sensual Not sexual/sensual