is this (not) a woman
Mētra Saberova | Tae Kyung Seo
Ana Treviño | Deirdre Vertucci
nov 4 2016 – jan 20 2017
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t A d proudly presents this exhibition as part of Outskirts: Bodies, Places, and Identities, an initiative that brings together artists from diverse background to explore women’s issues and politics. The exhibition title is borrowed (and modified) from the large-scale oil painting Is this not a woman? by Latvian artist Mētra Saberova. Playfully referencing Magritte’s This is not a pipe (or The Treachery of Images), the artist describes her painting as a feminist revival of the semiotic discussion of representation and image. Throughout Mētra’s extensive body of work, she maintains a lighthearted and humorous approach towards the weighty subject matter of female representation, sterilization, and identity.
An aura of surrealism glows in the photographs by South Korean artist Tae Kyung Seo, originated from her fascination with “organs within a body” and “fake organs”. She mentions that although her internal organs belong to her, she may never actually touch them during her life time; they will always remain as some kind of “unknown existence”. Her venture into the internal body heralds an exploration of what lies underneath the world of social appearances. And what’s underneath is perhaps nothing but the virtual dimension of experience, which is best described by Gil Deleuze as “body without organs” in his writing “The Schizophrenic and the Little Girl” in The Logic of Sense. This virtual dimension is a vast reservoir of movements, connections, affects, potentials — things that go beyond the surface of image and representation.
In contrast to Seo’s work is the video piece Traditions for the Mexican Woman by Mexican American artist Ana Treviño, who utilizes all the devices of cultural appearances — the making of tortilla dough in cazuela, the performance of ballet folklórico in Jalisco dress, textile embroidering — in her construction of identity. The rudimentary nature of representation and social construction is revealed by virtue of the artist’s purposefully simplistic, playful and humorous rendition of the subject matter.
Mountain Beauty belongs to a collection of work entitled God Bless The Pocono’s by Deirdre Vertucci, who lives and works in New York City and Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. The hidden tension and contradiction in her work can be easily sensed, yet it is the complexity underneath the seeming simplicity that characterizes her work. From art history standpoint, Mountain Beauty resembles the kind of representation of women epitomized in the reclining woman convention, in the idea of Orientalism reified as Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque, in the objectification of women through the male gaze. Seen alongside its precursors, Mountain Beauty is therefore less about the Pocono woman in the portrait than the artist behind the camera, the intention of the curator, as well as the perspectives of the viewers.
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