Emily Sandrussi’s exhibition Coincidence of Identity presents a collection of works that explore themes of identity, grief, and mortality through the lens of the maternal relationship and women’s work more broadly.
Spanning disciplines, the exhibition includes embroidery and textile-based works alongside photography, providing a poignant reminder of the way in which our experiences of life, death, grief and mortality are at once intrinsically personal and completely universal.
Elaborating on the artworks included in the exhibition Sandrussi explains:
“I AM is an exploration of identity – both on an individual, personal scale and a wider cultural scale. The work challenges cultural attitudes towards women’s hair (often sexualised) and femininity by repurposing my own hair to create an image using the traditionally feminine craft of cross-stitch. The statement “I am” is one loaded with religious, philosophical, and cultural meaning. The phrase plays on reminiscences of Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am”, and Shakespeare’s “I am not what I am”. In Hebrew scripture, the dominant name given the God of Jewish and Christian tradition is YHWH (anglicised Yahweh), which literally translates to “I Am”. I AM (2017) draws on these references to examine femininity, spirituality, and identity in a text-based self-portrait.
I AM (2017) and I AM (2018) were created before and after the death of my mother. The similarities between the two pieces, made on either side of a life-changing, identity-shifting event, inspire reflection on the impact of grief on personal identity.”
“Another work, Shroud (2018) is a photographic self-portrait and memento mori. The photograph depicts myself, almost imperceptible, behind a flame-like column of moving fabric salvaged from my late mother’s sewing collection. Neither the fabric nor myself is fully present – each rendered a phantom by the influence of the other. Capturing the fabric in the moment before it falls away, the work explores the process of redefining one’s identity in the absence of the other. Shroud seeks to explore notions of identity, memory, and mortality through the lens of the maternal relationship.”
Emily Sandrussi completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts with first class honours and the university medal (2013), and was the inaugural recipient of the Artereal Gallery Mentorship Award for her work in the Sydney College of the Arts Undergraduate Degree Show (2013). In 2016 she completed a Master of Fine Arts at Sydney College of the Arts.
Emily Sandrussi was awarded the John Coburn Emerging Artist Award as part of the Blake Prize (2014), and she was also a finalist in the prestigious William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize at Monash Gallery of Art (2014) and the Contemporary Landscapes in Photography Prize at the Perth Centre for Photography (2014). Emily is a current finalist in the 2018 National Works on Paper Prize for her work Arctic Biosphere (Volume 14), from the series Volumes.
Her work has been exhibited at Parliament House (Canberra), Monash Gallery of Art (Melbourne) and COFA Galleries (Sydney).