Alexandra
Davenport
     




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You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), 2017. 

C-Type Print, 167 x 121cm.  

Towards the end of the 19th Century, various female body parts wrapped in parcels were reported to have washed up on the banks of the River Thames, London. Legs, arms and torsos were all recovered separately, but individually the fragments accounted for very little. As more and more were discovered, police attempted to suture the women’s bodies back together; piece by piece.
Not uncommon to the history of feminism and corporeality, dismemberment was used as a method to disguise the identities of the victims and although never fully formed, it was thought that a total of 5 separate bodies were found and of these 5, only one head (which had been boiled beyond recognition).

This removal and concealment of the heads was seen as a tactic to avoid capture, because without their heads, and consequently their faces — they were unable to successfully identify any of the women. The one exception to this was of Elizabeth Jackson, found in June 1889, whose identification was only made possible by a tattoo on her arm. Unfortunately for the rest of these women, without a face or a name, the fragments were only seen to relate to an incomplete body — a mass, and not a person.

I am interested in how narrative is propelled without the presence of a “complete” body.


Exhibited as part of London Nights at The Museum of London, May - October 2018. Read more here