“Embroidery has become a metaphor for questioning the veracity of photography and an extension of my interest in what lies beneath the surface.”
TO SAY THAT PATRICIA CASEY’S IMAGES ARE COMPLEX is to do more than describe their involved technique. The ideas and emotions that they channel and evoke are woven of light and dark threads; the golden and the base; the transcendental and the earthy.
Setting her image-world in the realm of dreams, she draws on the many, often conflicting, conceptions of the nature and function of our nocturnal imaginings. From Freud’s sexualised interpretations and Jung’s notion of the archetype to more ancient beliefs that dreaming is a conversation with dead ancestors, dreams have been the subject of much study; study which has, as yet, yielded no firm understanding. Today, neurophysiologists and philosophers of the mind still struggle to comprehend what we all perceive so powerfully as we sleep.
PATRICIA CASEY’S WORKS ARE MORE THAN simply aesthetically pleasing images depicting an intriguing but ultimately unknowable psychological space. Each is punctured and threaded as the artist’s needle draws her embroidery silks through and back the surface of the photograph. It is a disturbing act that ripples through the imagination. In feminist analysis, passing a needle and thread through the pristine emulsion of a photographic print represents the hermetic (phallic) male surface transgressed by an art form that (male) history has relegated to domestic craft because it is primarily associated with women. In the language of the French theorist and semiotician Roland Barthes, it is – quite literally – the ‘punctum’: the unexpected personal connection that ‘pierces the viewer’. It is a term Barthes borrowed from medical science where one of its many meanings describes the tiny openings at the edge of the eyelid through which our tears drain; tears that keep our corneas moist and our vision sharp.
Images, however, always confound theory. We might approach an understanding through language, analysis and philosophy, but an image is always more than the sum of such linguistic parts. Just as our dreams, while partly perceivable to the wakeful mind, remain intellectually ungraspable, so images are, ultimately, unspeakable. It is within this wordless visual space that Patricia Casey constructs her dream world.
PATRICIA CASEY HAS BEEN A PRACTISING ARTIST since 1999. She has received a number of awards and her work has been exhibited throughout Australia and internationally in China, France, Korea, Malaysia and the USA. Her ongoing research deals with the themes of memory, dreams and imagination.
Images (from the top):
© Patricia Casey Elsewhere (Lucid Dreaming) 2012
© Patricia Casey The Interpretation 2012