I thought I had a pretty clear idea about how I wanted to use some women’s ‘dress-up’ wigs during this residency – like the title of my PhD I wanted to open up the wigs, and maybe re-stich them into something else. However, they ended up being a starting point for a completely different kind of creative journey.
I had the opportunity to participate in one of Pavel’s short films. One of the blond wigs I brought along became the starting point for a loose character based performance – and I would be the one wearing the wig. This was an interesting and definitely ‘out of my comfort zone’ position for me – as in my research I am the one behind the camera looking at the wig.
My own fascination with wigs started with the realisation that they are more powerful than mere props, and they, as objects, have a certain degree of agency, as they don’t just change our outward identities, but wearing one can subtly challenge our certainties about our bodies & ‘selves’. However, my research into wigs has taken a different turn and I don’t actually wear them nor do I think about their affect, in the physical sense, on a specific body.
This collaboration with Pavel provided an opportunity to ‘open up the wig’ from a completely different perspective, giving me possibilities to explore at my research project from a different angle – this may sound a bit obvious but during the process of PhD research you can find yourself getting locked into your practice from a very specific place.
Part of the process of making the film meant that I had to try to step outside myself, or try to subdue the everyday me (this is something I couldn’t have done without Pavel’s help). In doing so I began to concentrate on the physical sensation of wearing the wig – its smell, the silkiness of it, its colour, the itchy feeling of it next to my own skin and hair… and so on… It truly did feel like an out of body experience (a more disturbing out of body experience was watching it back on a huge screen – it was decidedly uncanny), but one that has helped me shift my perspective to explore wigs from the inside out as well as the outside in.
The experience I’ve just described here is a kind of microcosm of my whole experience on the SNT Residency. The sharing of practice, the conversations, the work time and the relax time, and the unfamiliar location have all contributed to a hugely positive out of [my everyday] body experience which has given me loads of new insight into my research – not to mention lots of possibilities for sharing and collaboration. I also ended up making a completely different kind of work than I expected to.