Matter - PhMuseum

Matter

Sophie Dumaresq

2016 - 2018

Australia

Matter is a series of images of hand dyed and chemically treated human hair introduced into a landscape. The images show a world where humans have become extinct and alien. The only traces left behind of them is their hair. The series explores the relationship between that of the human body, toxicity, and the environment.

The series came about while looking into the research being done into the links between environmental exposure to toxins, infertility and related conditions such as PCOS and Endometriosis. The hormonal changes brought on by these conditions cause hair loss. Endometriosis is a condition that has been and is sometimes still dismissed as a symptom of female hysteria.

The work is aesthetically inspired by the artist’s childhood love of 19th century scientific illustrations and 70s and 80s science fiction and fantasy films. The romantic aesthetic combined with the informative captioned text explores how aesthetics can affect how we engage with information.

The series questions our own environmental and emotional foot print, and the role they both play in our evolution and possible extinction as a species.

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  • Flesh and bones, 2017. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within a landscape, Australia, 2017.

    “Human hair makes an excellent fertiliser due to it being high in nitrogen that is easily digested by plants.”

  • Granulation, 2017. Moving hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within a landscape, Australia, 2017.

    “Granulation - new connective tissue and microscopic blood vessels that weave together on the surfaces of a wound during the healing process. “

  • Flushed, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within a landscape, Australia, 2018.

    “Flushed - to redden; cause to blush or glow. To animate or excite; inflame. “

  • Benign, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within a landscape, Australia, 2018.

    “Benign; (of a disease) not harmful in effect.”

  • Fertile, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within a landscape, Australia, 2018.

    “Fertile - (of a person, animal, or plant) able to conceive young or produce seed.
    Germination - to come into existence; begin.”

  • Luteolysis, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within an urban landscape, Australia, 2018.

    “Luteolysis; the shedding of the lining of the womb (corpus luteum) during the luteal phase of both the estrous and menstrual cycle in absence of fertilisation.”

    “I first began my research for my 2017-2019 series Matter while looking into toxicity and environmental factors in infertility and auto immune disorders that effect women’s reproductive health. Such disorders include endometriosis that was and still is in some cases diagnosed as a form of female hysteria.
    I remember the first time someone told me “it can’t be that bad” while curled up on a couch unable to move from the pain. In the Australian suburban landscape that I live in today, where this image was made. I am often struck by a disquieting false sense of calm as I watch my self and everyone around me going about their daily lives. The planet is in pain just not pain that we understand by our own definition and experience of the word. That pain is being dismissed by those who could seriously make a difference, instead they are making it worse. I find my self becoming more and more anxious about what this means for us as a species and our place here on this planet. Often when I try and express this to those around me, when I sense their indifference and I feel that same sense of helplessness as I did curled up on that couch when I was younger. The image Luteolysis was made in response to this sense of helplessness in the face of apathy while immersed within artificial suburbia.”

  • RU-486, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within an Australian landscape treated with the pesticide Roundup containing Monsanto Glyphosate.

    “The pesticide Roundup has also been linked to declining honeybee populations. While Glyphosate the chemical in the pesticide has been labelled a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation.”


    RU-486 is also known as the pill for a safe medically induced abortion during early stages of pregnancy. The images named after the pill are made of hand dyed and chemically treated human hair placed within a landscape treated with the pesticide Roundup containing Monsanto Glyphosate.
    These images were named in response to the frustration and irony I felt watching the coverage of the fight for legal safe abortion alongside that of the court case against Monsanto. They would prefer to force babies to be born into a world that may not be able to support them, as well as poison them, than give women control over their own bodies.
    The pesticide roundup is being used to fight the invading exotic grass serrated tussock that has been sprayed pink with the pesticide. Glyphosate has been labeled a carcinogen by the world health organisation and linked to worldwide declining honeybee populations. The justification for its continued use is due to its role in industrialised agriculture in maintaining the worlds food supply.

  • RU-486 (2) 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within an Australian landscape treated with the pesticide Roundup containing Monsanto Glyphosate.

    “The pesticide Roundup is being used to fight the invading exotic grass Serrated tussock that has been sprayed pink with the pesticide. Serrated tussocks can occupy up to 95% of the land area it inhabits. Serrated Tussocks also competes with the native grasses Poa Tussocks.”

  • Study in Mutation, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within a landscape, Australia, 2018.

    “Mutation; the permanent alteration of the nucleotide sequence of the genome of an organism, virus, or extrachromosomal DNA or other genetic elements.”

  • Lysis to Metarteriole, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within an urban landscape, Australia, 2018.

    “Lysis - 1: the gradual decline of a disease process (such as fever)
    2: a process of disintegration or dissolution (as of cells)

    Metarteriole - the delicate blood vessels that branch from the smallest arterioles and connect with the capillary bed.”

  • Metabolites, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within an urban landscape, Australia, 2018.

    “Metabolite - 1 : a product of metabolism
    2 : a substance essential to the metabolism of a particular organism or to a particular metabolic process

    Metabolism - 1 a : the sum of the processes in the buildup and destruction of protoplasm specifically : the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities and new material is assimilated
    b : the sum of the processes by which a particular substance is handled in the living body
    c : the sum of the metabolic activities taking place in a particular environment the metabolism of a lake”

  • Venus, 2018. Hand dyed and chemically processed human hair placed within a burnt Australian landscape, 2018.

    “Venus- The planet is often referred to as earths sister planet due to their similarities in mass. Scientists suspect that Venus once had oceans that were boiled up due to the effects of greenhouse gasses. The surface of the planet is now too hot and hostile to support life. The planet Venus was also named after the roman goddess of love. One of the most famous art and cultural references being The Venus de Milo by Alexandro of Antioch at the Louvre in Paris, France. “

    This image Venus, 2017 is from the series Matter.The series explores the relationship between that of the human body, pollution, toxicity and the environment. The series questions the natural vs the artificial, including our own environmental foot print and the role it plays in our future evolution as a species and possible extinction. One of the things that has come up is the materiality of using human hair, sometimes my own and sometimes that of others to symbolise the ever present yet disembodied human form which in this case has become “alien” and “other”.


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