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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Final Major Project: Guest Lecture – Haley Morris-Cafiero, 19th June 2018

During her guest lecture, Morris-Cafeiro commented that ‘anonymity isn’t for everyone’. She watches the watchers through her self-portraits in ordinary situations. Her work is intended to ‘start a conversation through the images’. Her self-portraits subtly capture people looking and making fun / judgements about her based purely on appearance. She doesn’t wear costumes for the images – the clothes are from her wardrobe.

The locations she chose tended to be places that may be considered as ‘vain’. They also needed to be available to get to cheaply as the project was totally self-funded. Morris-Cafiero deliberately put herself in places where other people would judge her and stare at her.

When the work was placed online, she received both positive and negative comments. Yet as nasty as some of the comments were towards her, Morris-Cafiero found the criticism of herself hilarious. In her book ‘The Watchers’, she used the comments as part of the narrative of the work. The positive and negative comments were as much part of the publication as the images. The negative comments are juxtaposed with a much more positive message opposite them.

Morris-Cafiero wants people to look at her work and be uncomfortable. She wants everyone to see the comments that she has collected from online bullies.

She explained that she ‘enjoyed the performative aspect of the work, but not the social media side of it.’

Morris-Cafiero has collated the comments from bullies and has started to use them in her new work ‘The Bully Pulpit’. She has used the comments and the online profile pictures of the commenters to create images in response to the comments – she dresses like them, adds their comments into the image and produces her version of their profile picture. She does not name the commenters at any point and they remain anonymous in the work. This visual representation of the bullying is empowering the victim and not the bully – the internet is being used in a positive way to raise awareness.

Morris-Cafiero believes that some people think that the internet will protect them. They use low-quality images to help protect themselves.

For her exhibitions, she has used words and text, displaying them alongside each other. She likes to play with scale and prints her images very large – she has found using social media type comments alongside images that she has posted online really works.

A really inspiring lecture 🙂

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