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Micheila Petersfield

Micheila Petersfield is an emerging young photographer, graduated in Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania and currently is undertaking a PhD in photography.  She has been selected to be part of the Biennale of Australian Art in Ballarat 2018 and won The Henry Jones Art Prize 2019 as well as the emerging artist category of the 2019 Woman’s Art Prize Tasmania.

~”My photography is focused on the idea of destabilising photographic ideals of female representation by reconstructing them as awry self-portraits. By deconstructing femininity and refiguring it from an altered perspective, those symbols that are girlish and beautiful adopt a darker and strange meaning. Through the self-portrait I embody characters that border on the grotesque while still retaining an aura of beauty and allure. This quality is reflected in the push and pull between the aesthetic appeal and the unsettling content. While my images are highly constructed and artificial they are seamlessly presented, which contrasts with the surreal content.

I transform my appearance by adorning myself in makeup and costumes, parading in front of the camera. Through my performance as a model and my creative directing I mediate the camera eye without looking through the viewfinder. I am in control of my appearance and am completely aware of my audience. The female characters in my photographs evade a singular reading; they are simultaneously threating and vulnerable and seem to fluctuate between subject and object. My work often borrows from popular and conventional imagery of women to evoke ideals and simultaneously challenge them. By looking at forms that primarily male creators have used to represent women and adopting them into my practice, the meaning alters because it becomes a female artist’s self portrait.”

-Micheila Petersfield 2017

All Artworks

The work ‘The Gesture’ is a performative self-portrait where I have transformed my appearance through makeup, pose and Photoshop to embody an ideal and exaggerated femininity. The body is posed to elongate the neck, enhance the décolletage and create delicate gestural hands. The pose is evocative of Mannerist art and imitates the distorted proportions of these figurative paintings. The image has been shot in the comfort of my own bedroom where I have used the simple adornment of a ribbon, swim cap and second-hand dress to assume the guise of a fashion model. This image adopts the high production level of commercial and fashion photography, yet the expectations of this glossy aesthetic are disrupted by the subtle distortions and exaggerations of the fashion ideal. It is my intent to explore anxieties around the female image by creating an experience of unease that collides with ideal femininity.