The Bikini Project

    Thursday, May 18, 2006 to Saturday, June 17, 2006

    Opening
    • Thursday, May 18, 2006
    The Bikini Project consists of 294 images of photo album snapshots of women in bathing suits, collected over the past forty years by an unknown collector. The album was found adrift in Howe Sound, BC by log salvager Erik Hammond in the summer of 2002. This unique collection was later donated to the artist, Heather Passmore, who has contextualized it through its presentation in the gallery space. Each picture and any notes that appear on the back of the photo are projected onto the wall of the gallery, one by one, in a continuously looping large-scale digital slide show. Each image hovers for a few seconds before gradually fading into the next. All the images feature familiar poses of women on the beach, whether among friends or alone. The presentation of the photographs in this manner raises various considerations with regard to representation, archiving and authorship. Moreover, it highlights the significance of the various degrees of gaze it evokes. These degrees can be distinguished by considering their origins: various people have taken the photographs in different contexts and at different times; an individual has collected these specific images; not to mention that the artist has re-represented the collection for us to impart our own reading and gaze. Gazing, and seeing someone gaze upon another, provide us with a lot of information about our relationship to the subjects, or the relationships between the subjects of our gaze, or the situations in which the subjects are doing the gazing. The Bikini Project also deals with how men look at women, how women look at themselves and other women, and the effects of their interactions. So it furthers discussion about our contemporary gaze, and understanding of representations of women, not only in the media but also in our everyday familial spaces. In a larger cultural context, The Bikini Project gives an insight into the popular representation of women in leisure activities. It also conjures an eerie spirit of remembrance and significance of the lives of these anonymous women. The fact that we do not know who they are carries a sense of loss or mystery around the pictures. We strive to connect to them by their level of familiarity in candid photo shots of their possible lives as mothers, friends, girlfriends or lovers. The large size of the collection generates further questions about the real lives of these women, their vulnerability and their stories beyond the captured images. Text by Jessie Lacayo, Curator