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Face to Face
Portraits by Margaret Clarke, Rosalie Favell, and Aaron AnaÔs Kimberly

Rosalie Favell, originally from Winnipeg, has used photography to explore her Native identity. In Living Evidence (1994), she employs the convention of the informal, intimate snapshot to examine the breakup of her relationship with another woman. The university owns two panels from Favellís suite of thirty. Though this fragmentation might sacrifice the power inherent in the entire series, the two images nonetheless narrate a difficult and passionate artistic journey.

Rosalie Favell, Living Evidence
Rosalie Favell, Living Evidence

Rosalie Favell, Living Evidence (detail), 1994
The project originated in a set of Polaroid snapshots Favell had taken of herself and another woman, a former lover. Because the camera was held only an armís length away, the womenís faces dominate the frame and their physical closeness, to each other and to the viewer, is undeniable. Favell enlarged the images significantly and wrote excerpts from her personal journal across their surface. As a way of protecting the identity of her lover, Favell chose to obscure her eyes with black electrical tape. This masking emphasizes the loverís absence and simultaneously heightens the viewerís awareness of her presence, the way a censorís black marks draw attention to what has been uttered but cannot be heard. With this gesture Favell offers comment on the cultural prohibition concerning lesbian relationships and asks the viewer to consider what she has overcome in order to identify herself as a lesbian artist.

The contrast between the spontaneity of the original snapshots and their archival-quality enlargements suggests change over time and a process of reevaluation. The handwritten text on the image surface, particularly the artistís question, “How could I go on...?” is directed both to herself and the viewer. Favell explicitly reveals the process she went through to resolve her feelings about the lost relationship. She transforms the status of the snapshots from intimate mementos of a private life to public representations of an artistís identity, relinquishing their preciousness for the purpose of self-expression.

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