On show

Woolley, Dawn and Craddock, Joanna (2018) On show. [Show/Exhibition]

Abstract

There is a long history of debates and conflicting opinions in relation to the display of the female body. For example, many world religions require female worshippers to show modesty by covering their hair and body. In the late twentieth century academics in fields such as gender and media studies responded to the campaigns of second wave feminism, developing and debating ideas about the power relationships at play in looking, being seen and the representation of the female body. Contemporary discussions on this topic also consider female visibility through nudity to be a form of empowerment, and way of taking back control over the female body and its representations. However, this idea continues to be fiercely debated. In 1975, Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, a feminist interpretation of the representation of actresses and actors in Hollywood cinema, was published and continues to be taught widely in art schools. It raises issues of gendered looking and coined the phrase the ‘male gaze’. This influential text seems to be experiencing a resurgence of interest amongst a younger generation of female artists, partly because the ideas resonate with recent changes in technology. Thanks to smart phones with cameras and social networking sites we can self-author our images in selfies, leading to questions about what is being posed, performed, or presented, and for whom? This curator’s choice selection brings together artworks that consider different aspects of looking and self-display. The artworks play with the power relations between the looker and the looked at, disrupting the idea of the passive female object and active male subject. The participating artists are: Naomi Blakeborough, Dr Alison J. Carr, Megan McLatchie, Odjanna Dracock, Sarah Eyre and Dr Dawn Woolley. Curated by Joanna Craddock and Dr Dawn Woolley.

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