The Scumbag exhibition at Stills Gallery, Sydney in April 2008, is an installation of hand-stiched felt letters and a series of large format colour photographs, which reflect upon childhood perceptions of family trauma.
In Scumbag photography is only one element in a complex interactive installation. This marks a new approach for Dreyfus. Central to this work is language and the power of words to evoke strong emotions. Dreyfus specialises in subject matter that presses buttons, and this can cause discomfort to some viewers. Her images reflect upon the frailty and physicality of the human condition and on subjects who are often rendered invisible and hidden from view.
The artwork consists of alphabet letters in bright kindergarten colours which when 'played with' create words and phrases on the walls. In their untouched state they make an inviting pile on the floor. The words spelt out by Dreyfus are the words of psychological trauma, words of abuse or the impact of abuse.
Scumbag. Horrific. Punishing Silence.
The photographs in the exhibition reveal these same words placed within the landscape of an anonymous suburban housing estate, evoking a silent testimony witnessed only by the artist through the camera lens. Dreyfus is demonstrating her concern for emotionally charged inner and outer worlds.
This complex work evokes a dialogue between childhood, materiality, feelings and language. At the centre sit powerful phrases, which lay bare innermost thoughts. They visually and linguistically inscribe intimate aspects of identity that often remain shamefully and fearfully concealed 'behind closed doors'.
Dreyfus' Scumbag disrupts the line between the public and the private domain.