John D. Freyer’s ongoing project “Dress Up” is a series of vertical HD videos of his two daughters and their friends taking turns posing for the camera – for periods of several minutes without moving. At first, the static video images of little girls in Cinderella skirts or mom’s high heels appear as cute clichés familiar from advertising and family photo albums. However the children’s mild discomfort at standing still and silent becomes increasingly unsettling over time. The girls struggle not to fidget or speak, opening a space for a more complicated reading of their self-presentation. Their chosen objects of ‘dress up’ – the clutter of pink hair curlers and ballerina frills – become a costume that liberates, rather than obscures, the personality beneath. Dress Up deploys an everyday visual vernacular to explore this deeply human ritual that is fundamentally about the expression of the self in the world of Others and objects.
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