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Art Watch : Jessica Ledwich

Jessica Ledwich is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across nay discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch. 

Ledwich’s The Fanciful, Monstrous Feminin’ questions ‘femininty as a cultural concept, as well as a social practice by delving into its rituals. By taking each ritual – be it as apparently mundane as a manicure/painting one’s nails – to a horrific extreme – she uncovers mortality, modification and mutilation as the prominent themes of the ‘project’. Aiding this ‘project of femininity’ according to Ledwich’s works, is technology. Each innovation seems like a monstrous tool for entrapment. Ledwich address all this and more through her works. She puts up an uncomfortable mirror to contemporary culture and ‘ideals’. How scared are you to look and see ? Are you participant or enabler? The woman behind the camera anchors a dark reality into images that mock, or rather force the laugh.

This Melbourne based Melbourne based visual artist’s work explores the more contentious topics of conversation. Through her work she interrogates and analyses many perversities. The uncanny, the abject and often the irrational, in an attempt to unmask the intricate sides of human behaviour. To distil down this strange phenomena we call ‘culture’. The themes of female body culture, kits interpretations and cultural expectations and the collective gaze – feature in her astringent work.

Why Jessica Ledwich?

Ledwich received her Bachelor of Performing Arts at Monash University, Melbourne. But it was in photography and visual art that she found her true calling. In 2011 the Australian Centre of Media Photographers selected her as 1 of 5 emerging artists in Australia. This was a result of her provoking and visually seductive work. She was also a feature artist in the U.S Publication Visual Overture. She regularly exhibits in Australia and overseas. Her work is held in private collections in Australia, London, The United States and Hong Kong.

Ledwich has an excellent command over her visual language that she crafts cleverly. For her it is not the composition that is the winner, but the way the audience receives the work is important. Moreover that is the king and it is the edginess that she is always looking out for. It is a part of her craft to generate a dialogue through subversion of what she presents..

“I know sex sells, but haven’t we developed a little more sophistication in the way we think about what makes a woman desirable?”- questions the artist

Growing up, she read lots of magazines. The depiction of the female form and sexuality was something that led her to think about image and presentation. She aims to hold up the mirror through her works and allows the viewer to draw their own conclusion.

“Fashion is the vehicle of desire and its job is to sell a fantasy. There is nothing wrong with that per se, however I do think the industry needs to take some responsibility in the way it stereotypes notions of what is ‘desirable’ and the effect that has on the self esteem and behaviour of women, particularly young women.” Comments the artist.

Artistic Journey

Having worked in the realm of fashion photography she has come into contact with notions and set patterns of thoughts that she aims at challenging. The photograph is a very simple and effective way of communication and therefore an important tool.

In her own words -“Art has the capacity to effect social change if it makes people engage and think about something. Photography, through its very expression, is a very powerful tool to generate a dialogue.”

The surreal series – have been intensely popular and has received media coverage in the US, UK and Europe – the portrayal of everyday beauty rituals through a dark and disturbing lens, leaves a lasting impression in the mind. Jessica Ledwich hoped that through her series, people would be inspired and question  and investigate and analayse the normalisation of beauty treatments that were once considered extreme.


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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