Unconscious participation in social and political meta-narratives sits in many of our uncomfortable blind spots. Blurred, difficult or not possible to define they are uncomfortable truths that when left unfaced can become daunting and lingering shadows. Leigh Ledare’s photographic works describe such shadows: how do structures unseen, unfelt, unknown and often unloved impact not just the way that we see the world, but also impede us from seeing other potentialities without fear, judgement or derision. Raising questions of transgression, the laws of physical intimacy and the limits of self-affirmation and expression Ledare provide methods for viewers to discover their own biases, unconscious or otherwise.
It is this quality of non-judgemental questioning and soft diplomacy that I find so alluring. Looking at photographs from Ledare’s infamous series “Pretend You’re Actually Alive”, I get the sense that each work subtly asks a simple and direct but powerful question: but why? Why or why isn’t this image confronting? Who defines for the rules of what is confronting? Speculation drive the dominant narrative. Yet all the while an alternative narrative sits parallel to this speculation; why ask any questions at all? Can an image of consented expression be something that we don’t question? Can people ever be simply what they present to the world?