Shelby Wynne Richardson’s Views on Self Viewing Self (2015) capitalizes on the perceptibility of certain materials and the overperformance of oneself as a way to begin exploring and pushing the boundaries of identity. Four headpieces exist at an accessible height, split down the center by the addition of a mirror and an invitation to both try the headpieces on and document oneself in them. The act of placing such an outlandish object upon one’s head invites the viewer to view themselves in a new light, or perhaps gain a certain type of power or agency from the action of adorning their body in such a way. Similar to putting on a superhero cape, the gesture of adult dress up allows the viewer, and now performer, to feel a sense of levity or power they perhaps did not feel before.
Aside from the performative aspect of this installation, the materiality of these objects is of great importance. A neon pink and bulbous halo adorned with pearls, a metallic green cap filled with gold jingle bells, a reflective origami tiara, and plush fabric crown coated in gold leaf, are neither quiet nor unassuming. Each object displayed upon a white mannequin head and colored wig, only adds to the specialness of the object and the implied spectacle of feminine identity. Richardson’s attention to craft and light capturing materials incites the need felt by the artist for increased visibility within her own visual material culture.