The prom dress and all that it entails is the focus of Poise, an exhibition that includes a performance and installation of portrait photographs at the Trianon Gallery. The performance begins as local female high school graduates arrive at the gallery in their prom dresses and occupy the space. On the days following the performance, a series of colour photographic portraits of the participants, taken by artist Jennifer Crane, were installed in the gallery.
“The prom dress is an enduring cultural phenomenon particular to the experiences of thigh school girls throughout North America,” she said. “It is imperative that the dress convey one’s unique individual personality as well as punctuate the significance of the formal event. The careful selection and anticipation of a prom dress seems only comparable to that of a wedding dress.”
“In Western culture, the dress can signify the female body and is also symbolic of femininity, beauty and desire. The prom is essentially about the formalities of graduation and yet it is also an auspicious occasion in which to indulge in one’s appearance and glamour,” she added.
The opening night performance recreates the scene of a high school prom, although one in which only women are present. “It intends to engage with ides about how women occupy public spaces as both observers and those who are observed in relation to popular memory, authority and spectacle.”
The exhibition sets a stage for possible interaction, for dance and conversation. As well, it reflects on the history, myths, and memories specific to this gallery space, which was formerly a dance hall. “The exhibition intends to provoke a dialogue about the enduring cultural presence of the prom gown, while celebrating the desire for dance and dressing up,” said Crane.