Milkteeth

2014
Pigment print on archival cotton paper
120 x 120 cm
Edition of 5 + 2 AP

WINNER OF THE 2016 MAMA NATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE

 
       
 

In Chinese culture, the pearl is said to allow an individual to become more open, to find the meaning and purpose of one’s true self. For the Chinese, pearl powder is also used as a cosmetic skin whitener. The formation of a pearl inside a pearl oyster occurs because of the presence of foreign material inside the body of the oyster. To save itself from this foreign material, the mollusc coats the object with many layers of nacre, which become the pearl. This self-portrait imagines the shedding of whiteness from inside my body, where each particle of whiteness has been used to mask the external body. Here I have shed my milk teeth, or ‘pearly whites’, and through accretion have formed an iridescent white hood. There is a strange labour in the construction of this talisman. The mask disguises and transforms the wearer, but does it bestow the power to find one’s true self?