17 May 2001 to 9 June 2001
198 Contemporary Arts and Learning
(Residency 12th April to 12th May 2001)
Barby Asante’s work places the viewer at the centre of the artistic process through physical interactive experiences. Asante's working process addresses issues of how we define personal identity and self-expression through comparison, competition and aspiration. Through her work she explores the manipulation of image in our media-saturated environment. How do these images affect self-image? How do the different spaces in which we present ourselves affect our everyday interactions with others?
Asante devised three performative interventions under the collective banner of I Accept Your Image. I Am You. Text pieces were placed in the bathrooms, fitting rooms and other private spaces in public places such as restaurants, bars and shops in the locality. Some carry fictitious advertising slogans such as ‘Why Wear It If You Won't Show It’. Others show typical thoughts men and women often have in such settings.
In Wig Therapy Asante took on the persona of a wig therapy consultant at a hairdressing salon. Participants booked appointments with her as you would for a haircut. Interacting with clients, she demonstrated how image transformation can affect personality and mood. The third element was an open invitation to share stories, discuss and document what constitutes a Perfect Saturday Night. The actions, reactions and interactions of the participants fed into the work that was exhibited after the residency.
The working process and the work created for the exhibition highlighted how we adjust our individual identities to areas that offer us greater comfort and freedom. The artist feels that our comsumption of images can inscribe our identities on the surface of our selves. To Asante, this artful disguise of our identities hides who we are and sometimes who we really want to be.