Lindsay Seers: from Eyes of others; courtesy Gallery of Photography

Lindsay Seers is a London-based artist, performer and photographer who recently exhibited her work at the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar, Dublin. The exhibition, titled Eyes of others, chronicled the artist’s strange life and work as a human camera.

Lindsay Seers: from Eyes of others (detail); © Lindsay Seers
Lindsay Seers: from Eyes of others (detail); © Lindsay Seers

Seers uses her body as a camera – her mouth cavity is the camera body and her lips the shutter and aperture. The results are nothing short of autobiographical and add new meaning to the feminist theory of women’s bodies being seen and used as vessels. Her unique preparation for these photographs calls for the same amount of attention as the works themselves. To make a photograph, the artist disappears into a lightproof, black bag and places a precut coloured negative at the back of her mouth. Using a dark gummy sheild positioned with a pin hole in the front of her mouth, Seers snaps a photograph using her lips or hand as the shutter. The result yields a rich blood-red colour caused by light filtering in through her cheeks. In the Auto-cannibal series from 1997 / 9, the photographs are framed by faux-fanged teeth, while others reflect the artist’s face and background environment from a hand-held mirror.

Lindsay Seers: from Eyes of others; courtesy Gallery of Photography

Seers, in her own words, articulates her relationship with photography and the underlying forces that pilot her work:

It is hard to know where the pictures that seem to stay inside of us exist, or why they surface. Suddenly, these images emerge from the darkness, unexpected and intense; a lost moment unearthed and written into another context, double-exposed on the present…This point now, the present, is the only moment that is both perceived and felt. The skin is the interface for this affect, the body the threshold of this transformation…Photography has the guise of becoming memory itself, solidifying the intangible imagery inside of us and spitting it out, where we can scrutinise it in a way that we never can when it sits inside of us… using the mouth as a camera… is like a kiss; like an act of ventriloquism; or like an act of vampirism…from the remote black box of the camera to the warm sensuality of the mouth cavity…This means of making photographs cancels the usual separation of the act of photographing from the photographer. It joins the body and the act of seeing into the image. From this work all the rest has evolved, the vampire, the ventriloquist, the possessed, all refer in some senses to the problematic relationship between subject and object, the fusion and confusion of them.

Lindsay Seers: from Eyes of others; courtesy Gallery of Photography

Seers’ own life is shrouded in mystery; she was mute until the age of eight and developed an affinity to ventriloquist dummies which she collaborates with in the exhibition at the Gallery of Photography. Sailor Bill, a creepy, two-headed dummy, located on the second floor in a room all his own and who seems to have a life all his own, is seen as her alter ego by way of Seers’ transforming him into a camera. His heads and eyes move about and when you least expect it, the mouths open and snap a photograph of you which are later developed and displayed in the exhibition.

Metaphorically, Lindsay Seers adopts the guise of the vampire and ventiloquist in performing as a photographer, but literally, she is a camera. She tilts her body, measures her speed, waits for the right moment, opens her lips – and snaps.

Jennifer Poole held the position of Director of Visual Arts at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in New York City. There she produced catalogues, video documentaries and directed such exhibitions as THE INVISIBLE THREAD: Buddhist Spirit in Contemporary Art which was part of THE BUDDHISM PROJECT, a city-wide consortium of events and exhibitions that investigated the relationship between Buddhism and contemporary American culture. She currently resides in Monkstown, Co Dublin.