Sadie Murdoch (born 1965 in the United Kingdom; lives and works in London, England).
Eight archival pigment prints on fine art paper mounted on conservation board; variable dimensions.
“Mirrored Photomontage, Part One and Mirrored Photomontage, Part Two were photographed with a Single Lens Reflex camera and color negative film. Using analogue photography, Sadie Murdoch interpreted and re-staged a 1929 archival image of the modernist designer Charlotte Perriand reclining on the iconic Chaise Longue LC4, which she designed in collaboration with Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier in 1928. A series of collage works led Sadie Murdoch to construct a painted stage set that materializes and fragments the spatial dynamics of the archival image. Substituting herself for Charlotte Perriand in her own composition, Sadie Murdoch meticulously rendered all within the frame black, white, or grey, creating the illusion of a black and white photograph. Pursuing a form of translation, which by its very nature is never exact, she deliberately went against the ‘grain’ of the medium. Sadie Murdoch’s photographic documentation of work in progress comprises printed positive and negative images that reveal the materially based, performative process by which she worked, using theatrical greasepaint, constructed props, a shutter release, and timer.”
—Roberto Polo Gallery, “Press Release: Sadie Murdoch; La Grande Horizontale,” press release.
“I was attracted to the image of Perriand on the Chaise Longue in that it seemed to break with a number of conventions of the promotional photograph.
“Firstly, given Perriand’s presence in the photograph, as model and as co-author (she collaborated on the design of the Chaise, along with the architect and designer Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre [Jeanneret]), she is also curiously absent. Her head turns away from the viewer to face the wall, and her physical presence seems to merely demonstrate use. It is one of a series of similar photographs, and in each case, Perriand is anonymous. In two of the images, her signature chromed ball bearing necklace hints at her identity. Perriand also staged and lit the photograph, so whilst it could be read as a self portrait, it is also just an ‘ad.’
“Then, there is a sense in which the image creates an unstable representation of gender; Perriand’s hair is cut à la garçon, and yet she reclines in a highly feminine manner, legs crossed on the chaise, her skirt draped langorously across the chrome bars. Even the pose itself becomes a type of prop. The Chaise itself and the chromed ball bearing necklace are also both ‘male’ and ‘female.’
“Lastly, the shadow cast by Perriand’s form and the reclining position of the Chaise Longue seem to point to a kind of ‘inbetweenness,’ a psychological and visual ambiguity. Most photographic documentation of furniture from the 1920s and 1930s is evenly illuminated, neutral, almost graphic. In this image, the shadow looms spectrally, larger than Perriand herself, and hints at an empty space, an index of Perriand’s presence as well as her absence. The shadow also creates a figure/ground ambiguity, penumbral zones within the image which blur the borders between positive and negative space, somehow attaching the figure of Perriand to the wall.
“This unfixed status is integral to the design of the chair itself. The sliding system of the Chaise permits a range of seating positions, from casually upright to reclining. It generally permits the sitter to be both alert, yet relaxed. It is actually a really great chair to read in, precisely for this reason; the mind can wander, but ultimately remain focussed. It struck me, looking at this picture, that Modernism occupies a point between positivist utilitarianism and a set of ideas and practices that may not be strictly rational—idealism, utopianism, megalomania etc. So the Chaise itself is a nice visual analogy.
“And just as the occupant of the chaise is suspended, between dreaming and waking, my remake of the image in ‘Modelling Charlotte Perriand’ is not ‘fixed.’ The image itself shuttles back and forth between black and white and color, the original and its interpretation, Perriand’s body and my own. The spatial ambiguity of the figure /ground relationship is also formally elaborated in my photograph.”
—Sadie Murdoch, “Interview: Sadie Murdoch on her Self-Portrait as Charlotte Perriand,” interview by Nigel Warburton, Art and Allusion, May 22, 2007.