Read the Statement
The content of this exhibit emerges from my English research in Pre-Raphaelite art and literature, in which I examine the perception of female sexualappetite and the economics of consumption in Victorian England. Using the female figure and the pomegranate, I draw on images of consumption to explore and question sexual agency. Who is the subject and who the object of sexual exchange?
For centuries the theme of women and fruit has figured into western art. Apparent in these images is the presence of the male gaze. Gaze is determined by who is doing the looking. In art, gaze is defined by the relationship between the viewing audience and the figure presented in the artwork. In this relationship the gazer is superior to the object of the gaze. This power asymmetry is accentuated when the subject gazing is male and the art object is a sexualized female bearing fruit.
In my exhibit, Devour, I attempt to re-contextualize women in art as sovereign agents of their sexuality. The women in the standing nude series are able to reclaim their subjectivity in a way that the women of the fetal nudes cannot. These women possess the fruit. They look down on the viewer and meet his gaze with gravity. They have the power to devour. Conversely, the fallen fetal nudes, like Persephone, in consuming are inadvertently consumed, becoming sex objects of the heterosexual male gaze. In this exhibit I seek to subvert western art’s patriarchal premise toward female representation by endowing the female figure with subjectivity. I seek to inscribe a democratic system of viewing that creates open space for egalitarian relationships between art and viewers, women and men.