Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists from Helen Kornblum

Amanda Ross-Ho. Invisible Ink. 2010 336

Two chromogenic color prints, Each 71 7/8 × 30" (182.6 × 76.2 cm). Gift of Helen Kornblum in honor of Roxana Marcoci. © 2022 Amanda Ross-Ho

Artist, Amanda Ross-Ho: My name is Amanda Ross-Ho. You're looking at an artwork that I made in 2010 called Invisible Ink.

In the year 2000, I made a piece in which I covered my body in temporary tattoos from the neck down and made a pair of life-sized self portraits called Ink. After making those original photographs, I was broke and had no money to pay for a professional crater to pack the work, so I sewed these soft pillowcase-like fabric slipcovers as my best effort at protecting these pieces.

And then in 2009, I opened up the packaging of the photographs and the white fabric slipcovers resembled these homemade Halloween ghost costumes, so I decided to cut the holes to reveal the eyes. And then Invisible Ink is produced by photographing those photographs through the fabric. So there's no digital compositing. It's all just pictures of pictures, which I understand is visually really confusing, and I kind of love how impossible it is, to be honest with you.

My dad was a painter and a photographer. He emigrated from Hong Kong to the U.S. My mother was a photographer and an activist who also used self-portraiture in her art. Because of the sort of unique nature of my family's plural household, there was the sensation of feeling like an aberration, not just in terms of race, not just in terms of gender, but all of these kinds of intersections. And so when I was making this set of pictures, I was trying to find a way to come in contact with my own empowerment, through a real confrontation with that idea that I didn't feel like I actually was entitled to be there.

I think all of it comes down to a critical concern for me, which is to complicate the idea of classification. We have to remain diligent in terms of asking questions of the world around us and not being able to default to neat categories in terms of anything that we're looking at.

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