Through a series of aesthetic experiments, this practice-based project will assist in better understanding the phenomenon of ‘passing’ as a condition in both social life and art practice. The premise for the study is the capacity for the print to act as metaphor for contested identities and the agency afforded to the print when it passes as another medium.
Leary (1999) describes passing as ‘a cultural performance whereby one member of a defined social group masquerades as another in order to enjoy the privileges afforded to the dominant group’ . The definition highlights the advantages of passing but ignores the potential risks of concealing important information about oneself or the consequences of a failure to pass. Chaudoir and Fisher (2010) explain that a person who discloses what they refer to as ‘concealable stigmatized identity’ risks becoming a victim of discrimination and that active concealment can generate significant psychological as well as physiological stress.
‘Passing Gestures’ seeks to exploit the inherent qualities of print as an instrument for investigating cultural identity and, similarly, to use aspects of my identity to better understand the ontology of the print. By identifying, exploring and experimenting with the visual vernacular of the print, I will propose new ways to understand the printmaking medium—that is, as a material metaphor for invisible otherness and its cultural concerns. A fertile area exists for the study of identity politics through a visual language that reflects the fluctuating states between authenticity and reproduction, or otherness and sameness.