Made using an antique collodion process, the artists' self-portraits reflect her experience and trauma living under the thumb of a religious cult.
Michelle Rogers-Pritzl uses self-portraiture to process her experience within, and escape from a fundamentalist Christian marriage. Borrowing from a Stevie Smith poem of the same name, Not Waving But Drowning is a collection of visual symbols for keeping up appearances within an abusive relationship, praying for change while stuck within an endless cycle of denial.
Metaphors for silencing women repeat themselves throughout the series. In some images, hands bind together, grasp at crooked arms or reach in to cover a face. In others, materials like gauze cover and restrict various parts of the body creating an uncomfortable, visceral response. It’s hard to look at them without a feeling of unease – Rogers-Pritzl packs years of emotional trauma into images that are strangely as beautiful as they are nauseating. Her use of the 19th-century Collodion process adds an additional signal to outdated ideas about women’s roles and subservience and could be interpreted as creating personal distance, pushing her experience into a reflect-able past.
After meeting the artist at Portland, Oregon’s Photolucida portfolio reviews in April, we emailed to discuss the ideas and process behind her work. She’s also included in Humble’s latest online group-show: “Loss.”
Jon Feinstein in conversation with Michelle Rogers-Pritzl