Holly Falconer: Technicolour Hymns
6th October 2011 – 31st October 2011 at XOYO, 32-37 Cowper Street London EC2A 4AP
Technicolour Hymns is Holly Falconer’s first solo exhibition, presenting a preview of projects completed over the last two years. The show will include snapshots of English women who disregard norms: odes to lone rangers stalking ground unfriendly to a decade that opened with a wedding celebrating a demure girl marrying her fairytale prince.
Inspired by the photography arising from nights such as Boombox and Ponystep, Holly has captured the east London lesbian scene at clubs such as Dalston Superstore over the last two years. What arose from this was a document of women decked out in their own sartorial language of graphic hairstyles and punch-drunk colour: a group less encumbered by older generations’ fears over rights. Leading on from this, Holly’s subsequent projects London Girls (2010) and Duets (2010-2011, a project on female friendship and relationships) are carefully-observed observations of urban women and their lives. In “Emma” (2010) the subject stares openly into the camera, her cropped hair crowned with a simple baseball hat. The possessions that litter a traditional Brit- ish portrait are present but upturned: Emma’s horse is a bike, her uniform and regalia a simple baseball shirt. “Zara and Sofia” (2011) shows two women surrounded by traditional female motifs: a sea of red roses, but the photographer refuses to prettify them – their brusque expressions and ambiguous body language proving difficult to decipher. The final selection of images is of girls Holly photographed for “Asexual” (2010-2011), a set of portraits shot across the UK capturing a group of people who are so at odds with modern emphasis on the need for sex to define who we are. Over the last decade, the internet has bought this dis- parate group together to share ideas and develop both friendships – and non-sexual relationships. “Rose” (2010), for example, presents a girl standing next to a wedding dress and observing her engagement ring: she wants to marry, but refuses to be cur- tailed by society’s expectations of what that means. “Frankie” (2010) shows a person proud of her identity, staring at the viewer with a tamed bird on her hand: she has captured and caught hold of her own freedom too.
Holly was born in Painswick, Gloucestershire in 1984. She works on commissions for magazines such as Rollacoaster and Diva, and is a co-founder of The Most Cake, an East London-based website for women. Recent clients include Converse and menswear designer Katie Eary, and portrait subjects over the past year have ranged from Hot Chip and Kreayshawn to the Saturdays.
The product of a strong Christian background, Holly’s work focuses on the iconography of all that surrounds her: her friends, favourite bands and London, where she is now based. Inspired by church stained glass windows, her colour-drenched portraits have a myth-making quality to them – presenting individuals in all their raw glory. A lifelong despiser of Disney and its accompa- nying clichéd heroines, her wide-eyed subjects may look cartoon-like, but these colour block photos celebrate a woman far more complicated than the paper princesses the current 20-something generation were raised on.