characters, created with found materials, wigs and makeup, captured as self-portraits with a remote control
concept, costume, make-up and photography
If there is one common denominator in all of Valerie Reding's work, it is an insatiable urge for transformation. In her work she tries to transgress the barriers of gender norms and stereotypes, understanding the self as a nonlinear, fluid entity, that is constantly shapeshifting in an endless loop of destruction and construction, of multiplicity and simultaneity, of development and failure, inconsistent and ambiguous.
This series of photographs is an immediate reaction to all the unbearably violent acts of the past weeks and months, that particularly hit the Black, Queer and Gay communities, especially in the States. Furthermore, currently living in San Francisco, Valérie Reding experienced the effects of virulent capitalism and gentrification on social and cultural minorities.
In these pictures, one reoccurring theme is suffering and death. Reding explores the potential of resilience and self-destruction - in opposition to anonymous social oppression or destruction of which one is a victim. She envisions death as bearing the potential for a new beginning, understanding that destruction is necessary for creation, with decay being its imperative fertilizer.
The body being the place of intersection between the political and the personal, it is a battleground. Thus, Reding uses her body, masks, make-up and wigs, to incorporate different personas and stage them in those photographic, surrealist self-portraits. These images, as absurd, aesthetically pleasing and carefully conceived as they might appear at first glance, are the result of an intuitive process, which is a dialogic confrontation between an intimate and even biographic documentation of her inner, emotional landscape and the dystopian political and social realities that surround me.
By staging these characters that seem to emerge from the realm of pure fantasy, Reding paradoxically allows herself, through this visual artificiality, drag and cyborgism, to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, societal, political and technological conditions that inflict our daily life, behaviors, self-perceptions, communication, interpersonal interactions and relationships in this ever-changing world.
San Francisco, 7th August 2016