Adelaide Fringe Review – FEMME by Erin Fowler

Photography by Chris Herzfeld

Erin Fowler’s latest work FEMME is a return to the Adelaide Fringe after an 8 year absence. In FEMME Erin takes us from the catwalks of Paris to the office boardroom in a very personal – and at times – confronting way. 

This is the story of a young woman who romantically began her career as a fashion model only to discover she was there only to be prodded and preened. As she grows older the woman she becomes is challenged and that’s where we are challenged too.

The stage is set like a fashion runway. We sit either side in a handful of rows along the strip as she walks, parades, saunters and performs. It all starts innocently and then in one montage she takes us from model to marriage to whore. The sexualisation of women in fashion is literally in your face as the intimacy of the runway means you can not escape Erin’s gaze or body.

In just one sequence we see how fashion is used to portray women as gorgeous fun loving beings and then in the blink of an eye sexualised beings.

“As a woman, I am used to my image being more of a factor in my interactions and presence in the world that I am often comfortable with. Being thrust into the international modelling scene at eighteen brought me up close to being an object; looked at, poked and prodded, spoken about but not to.” – Erin Fowler

Once Erin has taken us to this dark and confronting space we shift gear to her exploration of self in a gendered and sexualised world. However this conversation is not just held in a woman’s space, this piece includes voiceovers from men questioning what it is to be a man, what is to be cis gendered and what expectations they place on women for sex.

FEMME explores concepts of femininity and female sexuality, the female body, the gender roles we conform to, or break against, and what it means to be powerful in a largely masculine dominant culture. – media release

The change room in FEMME is a 4 x 6m Breathe Bell Tent for not only the high fashion catwalk show but Erin’s journey through this narrative. And like most of life there is chaos behind the scenes only to have perfection walk out in to the spotlight.

It is so easy for Dance to get lost in the Adelaide Fringe and finding gems like this is not easy. But in a time of reawakening feminism, #metoo and prickly discussions about toxic masculinity this is definitely a must see. 

For tix go here.