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I’ll Be Your Mirror
Emma Talbot


9 April – 1 May 2005



I’ll Be Your Mirror is a show of paintings and animations made by the artist Emma Talbot during a recent residency at The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University in Whitechapel, London. Talbot has used images from the library’s archive of women’s magazines from the 1950’s to the present day to make a unique body of visual work, which not only reveals shifting cultural gender ideals but also offers a seductive starting point for a personal imaginative process of re-identification.

The title I’ll Be Your Mirror references both the Velvet Underground song and ideas about reflection of the self through received imagery. Like a kid in a sweet shop Talbot immerses herself in these dictated images of glamour before concerning herself with how to subvert and re-present them. Consequently her work not only examines the dominant role of media imagery in contemporary culture and the way in which it tells us what we might look like but also how it channels desire into specific expectations and ambitions.

Talbot is interested in how the fictive life of the images are open to creative usage and subversion beyond their original controlling and marketing intent. She opens up the narratives to an emotive reading that “our imaginations can run away with”. Ultimately Talbot’s fascination with the subversive space of the teenage bedroom results in an appropriation of the role of the fantasist for herself. Her own groups of paintings like a shrine to a favourite icon, revel in the romance and sentimentality that accompanies the teenage doodling culture of self-identification.
However rather than being mere ‘copies’, Talbot’s paintings, take on a life of their own. Her figures are often painted with thickly encrusted paint, a painted life that disrupts the ‘high gloss’ veneer of the photographic representations. They have a reworked narrative where the glamour is differed.

In her animation Pillow Book, Talbot redraws motifs from graphic love stories found in teen magazines from the 1970's. The narrative is distilled to it's basic elements, perennially evident in the stories: searching, longing, anxiety, confusion and reconciliation producing a dream-like tangle which reveals the underlying play with emotions in each episode.

In addition to the work on show at Transition, Emma will also be showing paintings at The Women’s Library inspired by imagery in 1980s magazines, entitled Smooth Operators and Material Girls.

There is a publication to accompany I’ll be your Mirror with writing by Martin Coomer and Rebecca Loncraine. Priced at £4 it is available from Transition or by mail order
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