One hand washes the other

Madeline Bishop


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

One hand washes the other is a series exploring the nature of platonic intimacy and the social and political dimensions of relational dynamics. Intimacy is often thought of in romantic or familial contexts and this work considers the platonic relationships that define us outside of these structures.

Friendships are distinct from family relationships in the sense that you are choosing one another. Perhaps, with this in mind, friendship offers a chance to be the person you want to be, not the self you were born into. But how does this alluring idea hold up? Time has a way of tangling and binding people, going beyond blood, beyond marriage and beyond sex. In romantic and familial relationships there are often implied or explicit ‘rules’ and expectations. Such clear obligations are harder to find in our friendships. What do we owe each other? And how far are we permitted to burrow into one another’s lives? These boundaries are blurry and wavering.

Central to these works is the question of how we see ourselves through, beside, and within, other people. Throughout the images bodies begin to mirror and merge, limbs are layered and objects conceal and distort. The use of performance, staging and construction mirrors the intersections of lens-based mediums and the projected self. The relationship between the subject and camera parallels our real-world relationships; a constant negotiation of the parts of ourselves we choose to share, what we manipulate, and what we hide.

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  • Support system

  • I'm an open book

  • Bend over backwards for me

  • An alternate reality where I never put you down

  • Make you fit

  • Let me

  • Showing you my best side

  • All the details you forgot to tell me

  • The things we've shared