Steffi Kelly is an inter-disciplinary artist from Waterford City. In 2015, she co-founded The Rogue Gallery & Studios, sitting on the board of directors of the artist-led space. She curated Selfhood, a large open-call group exhibition at The Rogue Gallery in 2016. Recent exhibitions include Soon is Now (2020), in support of Women’s Aid, and a group exhibition in the Herbert Wing of St. Vincent’s University Hospital, a student collaboration with the Department of Psychology, IADT. Steffi is concerned with representations of the body and their means of production. She uses her own body to produce prints and sculptural installations.
Steffi sees the body as a tool, as well as a vehicle, and a home. Her work seeks to look beyond the realm of mere appearances. She explores alternative methods of depicting the body; tracing its contours by pulling and pressing against paper or using her own body to act directly on materials to create a material residue of that action. In bypassing the act of looking at the point of recording, she feels her way, physically pushing against the material or acting on it in unexpected ways to transform it. In doing so she captures, not the exact dimensions of her body, but rather its effect and presence in its own terms. Seeking to highlight its ephemeral and ever-changing nature, she wants the body to speak for itself. Creating not just a picture of a body, but a greater sense of what it’s like to be a living body.
The body is our point of contact between ourselves and society. However, language used to describe what constitutes a valid or acceptable body cannot provide equal opportunities for self-determination. My research investigates the effects of constitutive language on marginalised bodies, identifying alternative strategies artists employ through self-representation. Using their own bodies, artists propose new inclusive models that make room for those normally left behind; allowing them to demonstrate the validity of bodies through their iterability. Validation depends on a shared relationality and mutual exchange. Relationality is compromised when perceptions of bodies stem from intellectual definitions rather than actual bodies. By engaging audiences beyond the limits of language, artists unlock new modes of representation to better serve those excluded. Using their own bodies as material, they circumvent constituting language to establish a space in which others may better stake a claim for recognition and self-determination.