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by Christine Barnett. London, UK
SHOWstudio hosts many a platform of visual media; working with artists, writers & producers towards the finishing project, ravishing in the process and inviting the audience for the ride. Project Lena has already joined in the revolution by premiering Filmmaker Ruth Hogben’s collaboration with award-winning musician Kanye West to create a film for his single Lost in the World, which probably just gave you a snippet of the things to come. ”SHOWstudio is based on belief that showing the entire creative process-from conception to completion-is beneficial for the artist, the audience and the art itself” Nick Knight. Director Tucked in around Berkley Square, SHOWstudio showcases their latest exhibition ”Selling Sex”. Vulgar. Offensive. Punishing, if in absence. Created by women to tell their side, the clinical white colour of the studio backdrop provides a painful contrast to the shot of colour, the power struggle among the real life photographs, sculptures and objects d’art. The visual space is used creatively to highlight the longstanding issues of sex and the position of women in today’s world. ”It is a well known fact that the majority of images we consume are created by men, and too often feminism is an easy target for commodification in the wider context of contemporary culture. Titled provocatively – and philosophically – Selling Sex, therefore examines this ‘self-other’ relationship by featuring all female artists and examining their unique relationships to sex and the female nude.” Art carries a weapon of communication, which can create a standing, but today the exhibition is not about the war the sexes, but more of a sophisticated dialogue. I want to personify the exhibition and let it talk to you. The exhibition aims to communicate that behind every picture of a sexualized woman and the potential aroused desire, there is a colder side to seduction, for in the Museum of Modern Art only 8% of the work is exhibited by women. Behind every sexual fantasy whispered from a photo of a smiling girl licking a lollypop, Tate’s female holdings amount to a meager 15%. For every object d’art, which could penetrate your conscience in the same as way, as it’s original function, in commercial galleries the holdings follow stock. The sexualized women, their over presence and promotion of sex, or rather the lack of them in some industries is a pretty shocking state of affairs. The facts suggest that the war still needs to happen. The intellectual imbalance overflows sex and art. ”In fashion, major campaigns are predominantly shot by top male photographers. And it’s in film, where women hold only 33% of all speaking roles and only 7% of all directors in Hollywood are women. And there remain only three industries in which women earn more money than men – pornography, prostitution and modeling. What does that tell us? The war is hardly won.” SHOWstudio wants to turn convention on its head and offers an exhibition made ”up of exclusively women artists looking at sex and nudity – examining a woman’s version of a woman and asking how it differs from a man’s? Is an image of a nude woman empowered in the hand of a female artist? Does it resist traditionally constructed gender roles? Does it mock a voyeuristic male gaze? Or, do we see yet more examples of the female constantly diverting her own eye, facilitating her status as the object to be looked at versus ever being the subject doing the looking, as Laura Mulvey writes in her classic essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”?” Good art- in fact art is too volatile to be judged and sometimes judgment and criticism in art can be fatal to its existence. Art in general has to be thought provoking and here the exhibitors are merely trying to direct you towards the questions. It has been said, that first and foremost, one must live through the questions before one can attempt to live through the answer. Culturally we are beyond repentance and behind time. The imbalance has been tipped in favour of the power and the upper hand has been held for men. The exhibitions hopes to give a helping hand and to even out the scale, tipping the imbalance ”right back the other way, ghettoising work by women in their own unique female territory. And we know this isn’t the major survey show we would like to make happen, but, it’s a start. It’s a conversation. And one that we hope helps us all emerge more aware of just how male gendered our visual culture really is, and – vitally – less willing to put up with it.”
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