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Kate Butler

In the early 1990s, Kate Butler worked on an ongoing theme of self-portraiture and investigated gender identity and surface appearance. Through the series ipseity, Butler explored the significance of hair and clothes to general notions of femininity by creating a family of characters that challenged perceptions of reality. In the series hair and desire in 1994, Butler used the Virgin Mary as a central theme and, through self-portraiture, explored historical and contemporary imagery of the archetypal woman. In this series of mural colour prints, Butler delved into and redefined notions of ideal femininity and challenged her own feelings about femaleness and how this related to her sexuality and perceived societal role.

In the late 1990s, Butler developed a major series of work entitled The Chimerical Daughter that explored the physical and social inheritance of femininity along the maternal line in her family. By photographing dolls from her childhood and objects belonging to her mother and grandmother to create seven fragmentary characters, Butler was able to draw conclusions about the cyclical nature of the mother-daughter relationship and the moments that build a sense of presence within this cycle.

Butler’s series Girlish extends this theme, focusing on her daughter and the dolls she uses in role play to establish her sense of femininity and place within society.