My Untitled Body 2018 Group Exhibition

249 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland. Comet Project Space. Thursday 30th August.

Images by Phillippa Stevens, text by Aviva Van Den Heever

My Untitled Body explores the concerns of the female body and the expectations placed on our ever demanding society to conform to unrealistic expectations. Each artist investigates the female body as a source of individuality; responding to their own experiences of being and what it means to be a woman.

 

My Untitled Body falls into a broader discussion regarding feminist theory and the everchanging obstacles women face within both their public and private lives. The artworks in My Untitled Body investigates, in particular, the nude female body presented as a snapshot ‘selfie’ -its ability to be representative of oneself as well as a more extensive construction- put in place by society. All three contemporary feminist artists in My Untitled Body, build on concepts explored by previous feminist artists and examine the sexist perspectives of society and the naïveness of the gender binaries; that goes back to the establishment of Eurocentric ideas. The artists involved in this exhibition not only questions the perspectives of society but also their place as a female artist in a predominantly male-dominated art world. Contesting, revising, and ambiguity is critical themes discussed by these artists. The mediums used by the artists play into the more substantial commentary of feminism concerning the body; and the domesticity associated with female art.

 

The multimedia approach displayed in this exhibition comments on the unique ways of experiencing and expressing the female body. Ella Ranfft’s self-portraits that are expressed using a Rubenesque emotion, comments on the nude female poses and its relation to art history.  The use of paint, as the choice of medium by Ranfft, further associates with feminism and demands a revision of a medium often reserved for the masterpieces of male artists. The intricate uniqueness of the female body explored by Jessica Philbricks’ photography aims to document the ‘ambiguous by showing an unidentifiable body…’. The feminine colours combined with soft lighting add a  fictional element to real stories. Complementing the softness which Philbrick approaches her subjects, is echoed in Aleisha Croker’s photography and embroidery. The act of embroidery for Aleisha challenges and questions the way we think about women’s bodies and what we consider acceptable. The act of working with ‘feminine textiles’ is set within a wider contemplation of women’s art and breaking down the barriers between what is considered high art and craft; usually reserved for women’s art.

 

All three artists presentation of their bodies as a snapshot relates to the idea of the 'selfie,' and expresses the frustration of women who are pressured to display a diluted representation of their individuality through the lens formed by society. My Untitled Body is a documentary exhibition that seeks to gain female perspective through the use of mediums, which adds to the ambiguity of the female nude. The tension between historical approaches to the female nude and current expectations placed on the female body is softened by the ability of all three artists to add their own experience of what feminism symbolises to them.

 © 2019 by Ella Ranfft, Auckland, New Zealand

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