A cocoon of carefully interwoven fabric. Shoes, scarves, shirts, pants, skirts, jackets – every item of clothing a person owns morphed to make a human-sized sculpture. Why is that? Because there is a human being inside this heap of clothing.
Canadian photographer Libby Oliver is spellbound by the power that clothing has to simultaneously reveal and veil human identity and desire. Soft Shells is a visual exploration of this susceptibility to portray our personalities through dress and at the same time to use wardrobe to hide our insecurities from the world.
To create this body of work Libby buried her subjects in every item of clothing that they own. At first glance, the viewer might perceive these cloth sculptures as laundry heaps. Upon closer inspection, however, the viewer will be able to identify small sections of human flesh in the form of foreheads, hands and peeping eyes escaping from the binding clothing stacks of scarves, pants and blouses.
In her artist’s statement, Libby expresses “This work arises from my interest in artificiality, visual power relationships and indexing a person through their belongings. Through this series, I aim to explore the tension point between a person’s curated individuality and my personal manipulation of their aesthetic. Soft Shells speaks of human vulnerability, trust, power and control relations of visual interpretation.”
Libby aspires to travel with her ongoing project to various locations in order to broaden the representation of identities, cultures and clothing. For more of her work check out her Instagram.