Sophie Hedderwick

Sophie Hedderwick is a multi-disciplinary artist who combines still and moving images to produce innovative installations. Her work has been exhibited worldwide including London, New York, Tokyo, Milan and at the Venice Art Biennale (2009).

Sophie is currently an AHRC funded PhD researcher at Birmingham School of Art.

Swift As A Shadow

Swift as a Shadow explores the figures of young dancers inspired by Degas’ Little Dancer aged Fourteen. The work comprises two elements that simultaneously interrogate how the manipulation of the figure produces a sensuous art form that is not only beautiful but also challenging in its representation of female youth.

The first body of work reconfigures Degas’ sculpture and photographs and explores the provocative nature of the curvaceous pose in relation to contemporary imagery of young female bodies on the verge of adulthood. Degas’ use of young prostitutes as models and his exaggeration of the dancers’ physiognomy challenged the social corruption of the Paris Opera where the young dancers (‘petits rats’) were assigned patrons who managed them both socially and sexually.

By depicting the dancer in a similar pose and in off-guard moments, the images have a voyeuristic quality that aim to demonstrate the “kairos of desire” as described by Roland Barthes:

“… the photograph leads me to distinguish the ‘heavy’ desire of pornography from the ‘light’ (good) desire of eroticism; … the photographer has caught the boy’s hand … at just the right degree of openness, the right density of abandonment; the photographer has found the right moment, the kairos of desire.”

 

Kairos translates as the opportune moment and was used by the Greeks as a substitute for chronos, or time.

Against this historical context, and building on the notion of kairos and chronos, the second section of the work plays with the concept of time to produce multi-layered images with a multiplicity of moments. These spectral images have an otherworldly aesthetic that symbolizes a ‘dream ballet’ – part daydream of wish fulfillment, part nightmare of deepest fears.

The stance and pose of the dancer together with the light traces allude to the dual notion of sinuosity. Sinuosity that simultaneously describes the sinewy, the tough and the strong where anger and rebellion are embedded in young women’s muscles and, at the same time, suggests a twisting, curving, folding and winding of young women’s lives towards a more autonomous existence.

The non-linear style of the video installation continues with this idea and explores the sinuous nature of female development from childhood through adolescence to maturity. The performer is the artist’s daughter and the film plays with the notions of time, memory, dream-state, and duration.

The long and double exposures in the Polaroid prints are at odds with the instant nature of the process and, again, play with the notion of time and duration. These exposures, representing more than one moment in time, therefore cause the Polaroids to act as trans- temporal objects.

Sophie Hedderwick is a multi-disciplinary artist who combines still and moving images to produce innovative installations. Having gained a BA in Drama and Film at Bristol University, she later trained in Textile Design at RMIT University, Melbourne. Having worked as an artist for 15 years she then completed her MA in Media Arts and Philosophy at Birmingham School of Art. She is now an AHRC funded PhD researcher at Birmingham School of Art.

Her work has been exhibited worldwide including London, New York, Tokyo, Milan and the Venice Art Biennale (2009).