Bed sheet dreams



'Bed Sheet Dream' are an ongoing body of photographs taken with a hand-held camera. This series of self-portraits aims to explore and challenge the way male identity has been traditionally constructed as representing the dominant sex in Western culture.

In talking about the idea of a 'male gaze', Laura Mulvey puts forward the proposition that "in a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female". 1

This idea of a male/female - active/passive binary is perhaps impossible to escape, but it does seem to be a legitimate mode of enquiry as to how gender is reaffirmed through photographic conventions.

I perform repetitive movements within the confines of my bed and challenge the digital camera to record my likeness at arms length.

The camera is presented with a number of confusions, Its auto-focus lens tries, often unsuccessfully, to freeze the moving figure for long enough to enable the predetermined shutter to release and record a likeness. This leads to what I might call the 'indecisive moment'.

The use of colour is also a significant element to this enquiry. My brightly coloured bed sheets distance the body from space and time and introduce constructivist notions as to how colour may be used to reinforce gender binaries. David Batchelor explores the idea of western prejudice towards colour, aligning colour with the exotic, the feminine or the queer. 2

In presenting the camera with a variety of spatial and temporal challenges, the recorded likeness is more expressionistic, fluid and painterly, exchanging male dominance and control for something performative, flexible and perhaps even 'queer'.

We might consider Judith Butler's suggestion:

"If gender is something that one becomes-but can never be-then gender is itself a kind of becoming or activity, and that gender ought not to be conceived as a noun or a substantial thing or a static cultural marker, but rather as an incessant and repeated action of some sort". 3


John Paul Evans


1. Laura Mulvey - 'Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema'.

2. David Batchelor - Chromophobia.

3. Judith Butler - Gender Trouble.