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Becoming Cameron's Thumb


This performance piece comments on gendered underpinnings of photographic darkroom practices, taking Julia Margaret Cameron’s pioneering methods as a focal point. Cameron’s works are adorned by traces of her own corporeal presence, details that are undesirable in traditional approach to developing photographs. Women in darkrooms faced a contradictory response from their contemporaries: on one hand praised for their “feminine touch” as tinters and retouchers, on the other not taken seriously in societies.


This performance attempts to inverse the traditional paradigms and transmute perceived errors into intentional acts of labour, reclaiming control of the technical aspects of production, acknowledging the body involved and rejecting notions of aesthetic purity.

The produced artefact is a 120cm x105cm photogram.

Date: 11 April 2024

Duration: 10 minutes

Documentation of performance by Simon Sandys

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