Susan Copich: Processing Normal
Susan Copich uses a classical sense of theater casting herself as both symbol and subject posed in idealized choreography. The drama is set in environments much like the painterly convention of “tableau vivant” with the open ended story seemingly frozen in time. The subject matter is the story of all women as they struggle within societal roles to defy them or be devoured by them. In each photo, Copich poses as an allegorical symbol creating a poetic moment. Rather than losing herself in personal revery, she deliberately engages and challenges the viewer who is forced into roles of at once witness, audience and accessory.
The constant of the female actor either dressed as suburban cypher or traumatized victim is a portrait of the personal collapse cloaked in social symbols and mythology. As Susan writes about her work, “Because of the current conversation on power, sex, men and women, it is perhaps the first time in modern history that women’s experiential perspective is on the table. It is upending existing norms and redefining the feminine side of the story, giving it voice and credibility; asking the female population to not only seek their truth, but be to let it be heard; requiring each of us to re-evaluate our experiences and then to articulate with clarity and subtly a more enlightened existence; demanding that we no longer model ourselves and our revolutions after masculine role models, but reflect deeply on our authentic experience. All this is no easy task and one that requires bravery, exposure, success and failure” And the message is universal: No matter what kind of distance is created by the formalized, staged tableau of the “portrait”, this space is undermined by an uncomfortable intimacy which inevitably illuminates the pain of living and the struggle for change.