MARIA ELENA GONZALEZ
Installation view with the work (from left to right) of Maria Elena
Gonzalez, Kathe Burkhart, Sarah Vanderlip, Laure Leber
included in the exhibition entitled The Gaze are interested in redefining
the way women look at themselves and each other. "The gaze" has been
defined as male property - a tool to transform the power of female
sexuality into a malleable reflection of male desire. How men look at women
has been examined extensively, while the way that women perceive
themselves as well as other women has been a neglected subject.
exhibition attempts to give an historical context to these contemporary
female artists by examining their work in relation to the history of
feminist theory. Wall text containing quotes from such critical theorists
as Laura Mulvey and Mary Ann Doane gives a context to the work that is
often ignored but always present.
photographs and videos of young girls learning to ride horseback and tread
water imply sexuality through camera placement in relation to the subject,
yet the activities in which they participate are typical of children their
age. As they learn to use their bodies to negotiate physical space, they
simultaneously learn that they are "to be watched."
Burkhart's painting Slit subverts male language and mass media
representation of the female while commenting on female discomfort with
the body. The image of Elizabeth Taylor appears as both victim and martyr
as she recovers from a plastic surgery operation.
Eisenman's untitled collage of cover girls covered in the artist's
lipstick prints subverts the male gaze and notions of the fetishized
female by exposing lesbian desire and emphasizing the unattainability of
cultural notions of beauty.
Gonzalez's sculpture Untitled (Hamper) uses a domestic object as a means
to question notions of identity. The reflection in the mirror placed on
the top of the piece is disrupted by a phallic object that is both
attractive and repulsive. This Lacanian reconstruction of the everyday
object forces the viewer's reflection both literally and metaphorically.
sexually charged portraits subvert pornographic imagery by approaching
photography in a way that is stylized yet journalistic. The casual and
realistic details of the settings for these portraits combined with an
exacting lighting and composition causes her work to drift somewhere
between the real and the staged.
Taylor's Jocelyn in Chair, Eyeballs in Bowl literalizes the
internalization of the gaze in this two-channel video work as the artist
is depicted from behind, seated, reaching from one monitor to another,
appearing to take eyeballs from a bowl, one by one, and inserting them
into her vagina.
JANET BIGGS, Amanda On Top, Twins Below, 1997, C-print,
laser disk, monitor
Nicole Eisenman, Untitled (kisses), 1996, lipstick and
gouache on magazine page
Vanderlip's video stills of herself dressed in blow-up doll costume
confront viewers with their fears of sexuality as this animated sex toy
resembles a combination life-size children's doll and masturbation device.
disturbing silhouettes ask the viewer to examine the historic
representation of the black female as "exotic seductress." These images
express despair and conquest as women are both desired and despised by
Williamson combines suggestive yet not explicit female nude photos with
grease pencil tracings from pornographic magazines. This strange hybrid
questions notions of the erotic as well as differences in the nature of
the female and the male gaze.