Michele Landel - For There She Was, gallery rendering - 260w x 80h cm.jpg

For There She Was

Embroidered mixed-media collage || paper, fabric, and thread || installation (work in progress)

For There She Was is an installation that currently includes over a hundred embroidered, burned, dyed and collaged images shown layered on the wall, framed in a grid, mounted in a book, and displayed in black and red fabric boxes.

The series is about the consumption and negation of women’s identities. Alternating between a quiet conceptualism and angry expressionism, the series challenges the silencing of women and recognizes their refusal to have their voices and stories ignored by society.

In order to evoke the objectification and commodification of women’s identities, I digitally manipulate photographs of women from clothing catalogues and reprint the new images on recycled paper. I then stain pieces of fabric using natural dyes that I brew in my kitchen with avocados, turmeric, cabbage, and red wine to represent the physicality of womanhood and this notion that gender identities and roles are inevitable, natural, and fixed. As a reference to the paper dolls that women play with as young girls; I carefully cut up the photographs, then pair each image with a piece of fabric and finally add the embroidered stitching with a sewing machine. I deliberately smother, reduce, and cover the women - sometimes leaving only a silhouette or outline - with red and blue threads that represent blood and water streaming from small holes in their bodies. They are mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, and above all, ourselves. By covering each figure and reducing each one to a mere imprint or shadow, their presence is reinforced. The women are still there.

The title of the series references the last line of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, which is also often seen as a critical evaluation of woman's right and position in a male dominated community and is meant as a direction connection between today’s women and the generation of women who have been fighting this battle to be heard.