Sydney Kaemmerlen - Artist Statement
I am constantly striving to discover more about myself and my surroundings. My work, driven by this pursuit, explores identity and questions normalcy on both an individual and societal scale. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, my work often deals with my observations as a queer woman in the contemporary world.
queer notion is a project based in reflection and communication. The piece features photographs of myself wearing six crochet masks, each made using the fabric from recycled clothing as yarn. I chose this material intentionally, utilizing clothing as commonly understood physical reflection of our identity. I deconstruct each item of clothing into a liminal form before carefully crocheting it into a novel object. Each mask is made to represent an emotional sensation that I have experienced in my identity journey. frustration, passion, hope, dread, self- reliance, and hesitancy serve as the names for each of these sensations. In wearing a mask, which is meant to communicate my inner experience, I juxtapose the definition of the object as something meant to conceal with the intent to outwardly express one’s inner self. I play around with the concept of cognitive dissonance through the masks serving as both a welcomed protective force and as an unwanted obstruction of view. I involve each mask in a performance where I document myself going through the motions of my normal daily life, including eating breakfast and watching TV. By interacting with my domestic surroundings as if the mask was a normal part of my attire, I create an image where normalcy itself is questioned. I included family members (who are not wearing masks) to both push this concept and reinforce the idea that my own cognitive dissonance affects every part of my life, including my relationships with others. At home due to COVID-19, I made the decision to adapt my project from a static installation piece to a performative photography piece, which I feel adds an additional layer of reality, domesticity, and relatability.
In addition to these photographs, I have included a painted self-portrait. The painting features me sitting in bed, crocheting a mask around my face as if it is a part of my routine for getting ready for the day. I decided to include this painted self-portrait in addition to the other photographs because I wanted to capture and emphasize the act of putting on a mask. Oil painting requires a much greater time investment than a quick snapshot, which is why I chose to use this medium for this aspect of the project.