born United States of America 1972; arrived Australia 1985
First night 2001
Gift of Dr Robert Nelson through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2016
Deborah Paauwe’s practice is characterised by a focus on the female figure: her large-scale photographs in which the body of a girl or young woman is cropped within the composition invite various readings. Paauwe’s subjects invariably present as ambiguous and mysterious: their identities are concealed, and they are denied the agency of a return gaze. In cropping the figure in this way, Paauwe casts the viewer as voyeur, drawing our gaze to socially constructed ideas of female beauty.
Here, the mannered pose and embellished tutu emphasise the performative approach of Paauwe’s tightly directed studio-based practice, with her works inviting consideration of gender roles, identity and the stage of transition between childhood and adulthood.