Opening: Wednesday, July 11th, 6:30-8:30 pm
Female Gaze is a group show comprised of photographs by four emerging female artists. The title of the show is a twist on the feminist theory of the “male gaze” described by Laura Mulvey in her essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975). Her theory introduces the concept of how men throughout history have been known to objectify women or ‘impose an unwanted gaze upon them’ in film and art. This show features self-portraits and staged photographs strictly of women by women. In their unique ways, each of these artists addresses the ideas of how women perceive and portray themselves and how women perceive other women.
Aubrey Hays was raised in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and a Navajo Reservation in rural Arizona. These varied settings have contributed to the sensitivity reflected in the people and places she photographs. Hays is intrigued by the simple and seemingly quiet moments from our everyday lives. She believes these are the most evocative and fragile times to be captured on film. Hays’ work features unconventional portraits of women in nature being consumed by the effects of the environment. For example, in Wind, the young girl appears to be almost blowing away. In another work, Fur, the young girl is camouflaged by the trees and abundant overgrowth of grass and branches. Hays’ work represents the emotional transitions we continuously go through: past, present and future.
Kate Pollard’s 4 photographs are a part of a larger body of work entitled, This Woman’s Movement. In this series, Pollard addresses issues regarding a sense of self and the pressures of conforming to ideals in today’s society. Pollard’s self-portraits document one woman’s journey through her young life. Yet, at the same time, her portraits can be understood as a symbol for all young women who are growing up in this day and age. Pollard’s work illustrates the challenges women face in daily life, and how they choose to engage or disengage with them. In all of her images Pollard remains still, motionless and in deep thought within herself, as actions, motions, people and events move and change around her. Pollard’s work illustrates that the subject i.e. the everyday woman is choosing to engage or just be and how there is always a consequence or result of her actions or non-reactions. Pollard’s series, This Woman’s Movement is featured in June 2007 Portfolio Magazine.
Inbal Sivan’s images borrow heavily from traditions in art history, including aspects of the “male gaze.” It entails inactive women looking at some vague point off-camera suggesting that they are not engaged with their audience (or with anything) but rather have appeared, conveniently, to be looked at. Ironically, the art Sivan references in her work has been made almost exclusively by men. The images created by these men are laden with burdens; long-standing conventions of art history, sexual interest and social gender roles. As a female artist, Sivan feels less encumbered by these things. While her awareness of the “traditional” female archetype influences her aesthetic, she takes hold of the freedom to transcend that aspect of art featuring women. For example, in Untitled (Nude), Sivan is in control of all facets of her photograph i.e. posing and placing her model in a contrived setting thus enabling her personal vision of what a portrait or a nude should be: simply a personal investigation of beauty.
Kanako Sasaki’s photographs are mostly self-portraits. She says she is fully aware of the audience’s gaze towards her images before they are even composed. However, when she takes pictures of herself, the activities become private because the camera is the only thing that is watching her at that particular moment in time. In this way, Sasaki becomes more carefree and is able to let go and enter her childhood fantasy world. Sasaki likes to let the audience see her work as if they are sharing the secret moments with the girl in the image (almost as a voyeur). She wants the viewers to have their own private dialogue between the images and bring to it what they want. Because of the artist’s use of strong postures and staged positions, for example in Uniform, where the girl is captured doing a head stand and her dress falls down to bear her underwear, the artist was able to give her viewers a sense of intimacy and allow them to step into the girlhood and sense of innocence directly that she portrays.
Aubrey Hays graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon with a BFA, 2004. She is expected to receive a MFA from London College of Communication, 2008. Hays currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Kate Pollard graduated from Pennsylvania State University, PA with a BA, 2002. She received a Masters of Design Degree from the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland, UK, 2006. Pollard currently lives and works in Edinbugh, Scotland. Inbal Sivan graduated from School of Visual Arts, NYC with a BFA, 2004. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Kanako Sasaki graduated from Ithaca College, NY with a BA, 2001. She received a MFA in Photography from School of Visual Arts, NY, 2004. Sasaki currently lives and works in London where she is working on a Post Graduate Degree at the Royal College of Art, London, UK. Sasaki will also be an Artist in Residency at Woodstock A-I-R, a residency for Artists of Color Working in the Photographic Arts Aug- 24- September 6, 2007.