ARTIST: BEX ILSLEY

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Artist Statement

I work primarily within the fields of self-portrait photography, video and digital performance.  My work explores the concept of the performed personality in virtual space, and the ways in which that practice has the potential to be both more and less honest than the performance of personality in physical space. All of my work responds in some way to the performativity of being and the predicament of being seen.

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Accepting the body’s position as an object, I view this predicament as a source of autonomy and power as well as a potential trap. I do not seek to take a position on this, but instead to ask questions. Can we still expect to be treated humanely when presenting as avatars? Will debates surrounding the body remain relevant as we merge with technology? If not, should we use technology to transcend our bodies before we have resolved the sociological and political issues surrounding the way they are viewed?

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I aim to create narratives of the self and the Other which twist in and out of the real and the virtual, the artificial and the authentic, progressing through journeys of discovery, only to end up where they began.

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When asked: Why Balaclava.Q?

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Ilsley said: “What interests me most about the Balaclava.Q project in relation to my work is the acknowledgment of the connection between disguise and self-depersonalisation and the complex relationship I have with my self-image, my highly responsive sexual desire, my need for approval, my relationship with object-hood, and so on…

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… I’ve always lived one step removed from myself – watching…

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… When I work with that directly and raise questions about the potential of inauthenticity within my personality, what comes out of the other side is the most honest exploration of my relationship with my body (and how I choose to use it) that I have ever known.

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By exhibiting myself as something unreal and not-quite-human, I notice that I still indulge some unhealthy impulses, despite this being done under the paradoxical guise of presenting myself in my own terms. There is safety in the idea that I cannot expect to be treated as a person while presenting myself as a Thing. If I actively present my own image as thing-like, I remove any expectation of autonomy and responsibility, and instead become a site of projection – what can I do for you? how should I act to please you? what should I become?” – Bex Ilsley / 2016

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Ilsley’s forthcoming exhibitions include shows in Canada and Manchester, London (UK). If you are in the area drop by and show your support:

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– …In Dark Times / Castlefield Gallery, Manchester / 23rd February – 15th April 2017
– Recent Graduates Exhibition / Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, London / 20th – 23rd October 2016
– Liminal Confines / The James Black Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Canada / 15th October 2016
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Ilsley has very kindly opened up her works to Balaclava.Q. I have chosen finished pieces, documentation and installation images. Please see below works by artist Bex Ilsley selected by Balaclava.Q.

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Life Modelling on the Moon / 2016

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Your Cities Will Shine Forever / 2016

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Puerto del Cielo / 2016

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You can explore more of Ilsley’s works (including moving image) at the artists’ website and Instagram.
All images were kindly supplied by the artist.
Please ask the artist before using them.
Thank you.
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