Julia Riddiough

All images © Julia Riddiough
Website by Sam Nightingale

Clip Cut Gel

Clip Cut Gel is an ongoing series of artworks that are presented on the A Brooks Art online space, in local high street barber shops and also in regional UK art festivals. These new works by Riddiough consider what it means to be a man today; caught in an undefined and contradictory state this work explores masculinity from a range of perspectives.

Clip Cut Gel will include the exhibition and online hosting of four works that address male grooming, masculinity, gender politics and the gaze. These include: the photographic series; 'Toy Boy', 'Rough Trade' & 'Play Boy'; the artist film 'Clip Cut Gel', the artist’s book Barber Shop and ad hoc live performances by a Barber Shop Quartet

The photographic series 'Toy Boy', 'Rough Trade' & 'Play Boy' suggest male identity as role-play and how we subsume ourselves from the world of images we are fed. Our engagement with culture is often rendered as a form of enmeshing or even interbreeding. Empathy can be read as metamorphosis: when we identify with an idea or character, we often adopt their vocabulary or physical characteristics. We can see that the media forms whilst forming.

The artist film 'Clip Cut Gel' tells the story of three men portrayed in the male hairdressing magazines the artist has collected from the 1980’s onwards. The portraits reveal amplified masculine characteristics; drawn from male stereotypes that we see in the visual language that surrounds us everyday; intentionally inverting male anxiety by injecting humour and anecdote. 'Clip Cut Gel' plays with the way the male is looked at and builds it into a spectacle itself. Here the image of the man is seen as passive and raw material for the active gaze of the spectator (perhaps a woman?) as another structure of representation.

'Barber Shop' is a limited edition artist’s book showcasing a collection of still images and anecdotes drawn from the informal screenings and artist residencies taking place in local high street Barber Shops. A chance to encounter camaraderie and community in what has been seen to date as a male space; catching up with men as they are groomed, transformed and socialise together. This world of male poses and self-as-image is explored in the continual circle of transference and transformation. Published at the end of the Clip Cut Gel Project in 2014/2015

Ad hoc live performances entitled Men’s Lives at various Barber Shop locations. The Barber Shop Quartet present a reconstituted word-for-word dialogue previously voiced by the men in the Barber Shops and setting this to traditional Barber Shop Music. Here ventriloquising real men’s concerns with a different kind of verbatim performance borrowed from Verbatim Theatre.

The video Clip Cut Gel can be seen here (opens in new window).

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