Rebel with a cause: Jemima Wyman

Rebel with a cause: Jemima Wyman

Stay Woke

Text: Noelle Faulkner

From body image to self worth, politics, culture, gender and beyond, there’s more than one way to send a message. In this series, Noelle Faulkner talks to four artists pushing against the grain in their own way.

From the aggressiveness of the balaclava to the anonymous brand of the Guy Fawkes mask; the battlefield-ready sign of camouflage; revolutionary, free-love uniform of tie-die and the anarchic links to tartan, Sydney-born, LA-based artist Jemima Wyman's fascination with the power of visual resistance and psychology of patterns, camouflage and masks runs deep. A quick glance at her most recent work, which spans various mediums, reveals energetic imagery of protestors and combat gear mixed with conflict iconography. Trailing an idea that clothing is often the initial tell of a side or a stance, the energy and subject mater within Wyman's work taps into the outrage and political culture we are all riding, watching and feeling today.

Rebel with a cause: Jemima Wyman (фото 1)

Left to right: Aggregate Icon (B&W Medium): Protester against labor and fiscal reform, Madrid, 31st March 2012 (bent arm), Participant in Moors & Christians Festival, Villajoyosa, Spain, 26th July 2009 (keffiyeh covered-face), 2016; Mass Monument: Free Pussy Riot supporter at the Russian Embassy, London, 17th August 2012 (rabbit), “English Defense League” counter-demonstrator protesting Muslim demonstration against ban on veils, French embassy in London, 11th April 2011 (sharp teeth), 2016

What are you exploring in your work?
"My work is more a personal investigation into the world I witness. I'm often trying to answer questions within artworks. For example: What are the visual resistance strategies that protesters around the world share - and why are they being employed? Currently, I'm focused on contemporary protest culture. This focus slowly evolved out of a feminist line of inquiry that developed out of a question: How do you represent marginalised persons without objectifying them? I realised by wearing a mask you immediately acknowledge someone else's gaze. It is a playful and defiant act that can shift power relations. In other words the mask is a 'tactical frivolity'.

How has this evolved?
Over a number of years the work shifted from looking at liberation armies to the global protest movement. Masks started being used to protect protesters identity with the growing use of surveillance and social media. This was especially the case with the activist group Anonymous and their public protests against Scientology starting 2008 using the Guy Fawkes mask....The Guy Fawkes mask is now used by protesters against a myriad of causes and connects its wears to a collective 'protest face'.

Rebel with a cause: Jemima Wyman (фото 2)

Jemima Wyman, Combat Drag 2008, 

Can you share with what drove you this subject matter?
I've always been interested in the power of visual resistance. You can use one's body, clothing, or hair in order to defy social norms or to empower....My mum raised us as a single mum and a feminist and has encouraged me to trust difference rather then follow blindly. She emphasized the importance of independent thinking. 

What do you aim to wake in your audience? 
"I don't assume anything about my audience. However I do hope the work encourages: free thinking, a desire to know more, and an increased visual awareness of events and surrounding climates. Most of all I hope it fosters an empathetic mode of being."

Jemima Wyman is represented by Sullivan+Strumpf

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Twitter: @noelleflamingo

Rebel with a cause: Jemima Wyman (фото 3)

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