Dying Swans and Dragged Up Dames – by Helen Newall and Mark Edward
Dying Swans and Dragged Up Dames is an irreverent series of images photographed and Photoshopped by Helen Newall, which parody iconic performance photography of iconic male and female dancers played by Mark Edward. These are tragi-comedy images. The tragedy lies in knowing that the dancers we watch will eventually become too past it to dance, the comedy from the bombastic contrast between athletic dance bodies and an aged, overweight one attempting and achieving the same balletic feats. This exhibition fondly foregrounds cultural obsessions with youth and Photoshop, and the erasure of age in both live performance – ballet, drag or otherwise – and the digital dark room, where ability and beauty can be airbrushed and ‘improved’. These are images of old drag ballet queens, flamboyant in the performance of being clapped out and over the hill, but still dancing.
Dying Swans and Dragged Up Dames is supported by Edge Hill University, Lancashire.