“In this Crosher enters the duBois archive into the discussion about what photography is and is not capable of, and Crosher seems to be aware of this in a way that duBois is not. But both assert their own roles as producers and disseminators of representations. As Mae West said: “A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.”
- Kim Schoen
Throughout the duBois project, Zoe Crosher has manipulated the original images in a way to emphasize the archive’s physicality. For the Mae Wested series, the images have been crumpled, rephotographed, and printed on metallic paper, resulting in shimmering, faceted surfaces evoking the silver screen.
“Crosher’s handling of the archive is neither documentary nor investigative; she never intended to use the photos to give an accounting of her subject’s life” (Ross, web). Rather, for Crosher, the archive becomes another subversive means to exemplify the very impossibility of making sense of an individual’s identity through an accumulation of self-portraits, that is, according to Crosher, the very fictional aspect of the documentary photography. “Accumulation”, she stresses, “does not equal clarity – but in fact it compromises fiction” (Crosher qtd. in Blalock, “Part 1”). In this respect, one may realize how Crosher’s formulation of duBois’ archive is not only in keeping with the postmodern concepts of the constructed-unstable self, but also with what Marlene Manoff called “the postmodern suspicion of the historical record” (Manoff 14).
- Yonit Aronowicz, Going Beyond the Photo-Archive The Significance of Fantasy and Photo-Reflexivity in Zoe Crosher’s The Michelle duBois Project