Megan Conley

I was born with a facial and dental deformity; the process of repair started when I was eight and was completed when I was eighteen. I have lived my life experiencing both what it’s like to be desired by others and to be looked at as grotesque. I relive this undesirable experience with a newly desirable mouth; desirable to me because all twenty-five plates and screws within eliminate the old mouth, it is gone.

Currently my themes of interest range from identity construction to abjection, and the comparison of beauty and the grotesque. I am furthering this investigation by researching Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler who are authors and philosophers. I am also consulting the works of noted author and political activist Naomi Wolf.

My audience experiences my work through video and photography; they get to observe the neck, eyes, forehead, and nose. Including these features is important in my practice because it allows me to compare these characteristics to the once disfigured and now repaired. In one photographic series, the face and mouth is exaggerated, distorted with radiant colour throughout. I wanted to highlight certain features; such as the mouth, being factitious/abnormal and repaired, along with other features like the eyes, that are natural and unaltered. In another photographic series I am black and white, blurred, and layered. I took these images from a performance where I am unrecognizable.

I feel like I have lived the life of two different people; one being repulsive and the other attractive. With these photographs, I have transformed back into my undesired self. I have a unique and personal relationship to beauty which is an amplified example of a general condition of today’s culture and society.

I always want to have a form of mastery and control over the work; constantly shifting the outcome of beautiful with a strong desire to re-experience disfigurement, a temporary relief of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am locked into this internal conflict and I continue to engage with the same struggle repeatedly, preventing the dream of the reversal of my reconstruction from coming true.