Cindy Sherman creates portraits of herself through the use of photography. She displays herself in settings that are stereotypically “womanly duties.” Sherman explores and plays on the media dominated civilasion in particular the male gaze. Sherman creates multiple characters and settings that are drawn from popular cultures. In particular television series and old films mainly from the 1950’s when the male and female gender roles where apparent in the stereotypical American household setting. Sherman’s approach to this is a play on the idea that identity lies in appearance and that creation is impossible without the use of prototypes and stereotypes.
The piece “untitiled film still #3” displays Sherman in a stereotypically female dominated environment the kitchen. The piece itself displays a focus on four main objects, a bottle of washing up liquid, a pan, a mug and an item that appears to be a baby bottle. These objects in particular resemble the role of women in accordance to men. The expectations of women are to serve men linking to the idea of the mug and the idea that women belong in a kitchen to make the lives of men “comfortable and presentable.” The baby bottle links to the idea of a woman being taught how to nurture children from a young age and the idea that maternal formations are something that should come to women naturally and is something that is expected from their existence.
However, Sherman in the piece is displayed in such a way that confronts and welcomes the male gaze. She is positioned in a way where her stomach is pushed in with the help of her hand whilst her left arm slightly pushes her left breast making them appear more prominent. The intention of this is to act as a catalyst paired with the seductive over look of her shoulder to display the idea that this is all tactically done for the presence of someone else. Through the use of setting the gender of the other person is obviously male. However, the slanted eye gaze creates a mood of tension which is apparent in the scene This raises a question for the viewer of, as viewer are we disturbing the scene by peering in, are we creating a tension or are we designed to peer in as an attempt to diffuse the tension.
The piece as a whole raises my own personal question of whether I am complying to the gaze that she forces us to confront each time we view the image, are we designed as a society to be conditioned to a male gaze that we naturally can not stop our intital thoughts of objectifying shermans character. On the other hand does she intend to give the viewer space through the subtle scene to challenge it. There is no denying that the piece as a whole is a display of feminism. As viewers we are not the focal point of the woman’s gaze maybe relating to the stereotypical place of a woman in a home environment. Is this the factor that makes us uneasy or the fact that we place ourselves in the scene rather than outside it due to the nature of the photograph being a film still rather than just an ordinary photograph.
Dawn Mellor is an artist that explores the conflict between pain and passion. Her works touch on the idea of how as a society we consume in excess. Mellor relates this idea to online trolls. Dawn Mellors main body of work has been extracted to create a style. Mellor paints celebrities in a way that is distorted which links to her focus point of trolling but also links to an idea of hierarchy and how she can decide who gets excluded. This point works in relation to the idea of consumer need and how even though the paintings portray the celebrities in a bad light they want to be painted as they want to be noticed and consumed in the public light. This outcome relates to Mellor on a personal level and her relationship to the market. Mellor intends a narrative to emerge between the paintings however her narrative changes on what’s trendy which enables her work to sell.
The series “What happened to Helen” can be seen as a celebration of local culture or a critique of the standards of local culture. The series plays on Mellor’s personal life. In particular, her working class roots that are used to influence the media’s perception of her. The series uses Helen Mirren as a focal point. I began to analyse this piece in particular. The aggressive pull on the tie and the positioning of it has relation to suicide possibly linking to the idea of the extremes of fame. The Aggressive pull could also relate to the idea of the tie to fame, and the idea of being molded and processed into an individual/ object that is built and designed to satisfy the public.
The tie in the painting whilst gripped at the hands has similarities to the object diamonds. Paired with the colour blue, this could be an indication to the regal colour blue and the relation it has to being an iconic part of Britain as it represents the royal family. Mellor has blinded Mirren, it appears to be goggles that have been placed over her eyes. This relates to the possible idea of blinkers, and the idea that she has been guided in such a way to block out everything and do what is expected of stereotypical “celebrity life.”
Mellor relates her series “what happened to Helen” to fantasies of murder and even heightened sexual frustration. The pieces themselves are a raw representation of celebrity life in relation to trolls. The pieces raise the question of what life is when its controlled? Whilst also highlighting the link between exploitation and consumerism. The celebrities themselves are made into icons that are co ordinated for our gain. The media places them on pedestals that they never want to leave which links to dawn Mellor’s own narrative and how she makes artwork with an attempt to make a resistance to individualism similar to the motive of the media.
Katrina Palmer is an artist who creates work with a central focus of typography, In essence she creates portraits that are nothing but a composition of lines. The works themselves have no particular physical specifity. Due to “language” being a reoccurring and fluid aspect within her work, the physical ending of “The fabricators tale” differed from her other pieces which display solidified and compressed lines that are multiplied into layers to create a final solid pieces of work . “the fabricators tale” uses literature that responds to “private space” through the use of diary’s and small enclosed areas both of which create and depict portraits of character through visual representation and description.
Katrina Palmers “The fabricators tale”(2014) is an installation that depicts a fictional tale and adds emphasis on the interpretation of domination and distorted ownership something that is a a main factor throughout the written literature. To mirror this idea through an installation, Palmer creates a dark place that has a 3mm gap in the wall. This allows a sharp line of light through the gap which enables an eerie and restricted view to the scene whilst also creating a sort of “perverted” view for the viewer as you would be crouched down peeping through highlighting the idea of invaded private space.
The piece itself also offers an idea of putting a life on display. Linking to Palmers type of work and the idea that once something is written down it Is in essence set in stone and unforgotten. The lighting itself links to the idea of presence and absence and the idea of what is concealed and what isn’t. This may raise the question of how individuals decide what to conceal and what to put on display. The work itself responds to this question through the display of exploitation. The gap displays a lack of control and individual choice which relates to the literature and the way in which the girl is dominated and how every aspect of her life is controlled.
To conclude the work displays a thought process that has been highly concentrated to create an afterthought for the viewe. In particular a possible passing of time. Responding to the idea of what we have seen in the minutes we peered into the room and listened to the audio. The set up of the room and the lack of control we have on what we see due to the gaps size and amount of lighting available also raises the question of “was the invasion of privacy worth it? Did we gain what we thought and hoped we would gain was the experience as exhilarating as the excitement of being able to crouch and peer through a gap to a space that wanted to be unseen?
The piece ‘really good” displays the harmony of the two aspects simplicity and ambiguity. The piece conveys irony but is also deliberately elusive. The piece itself is placed outside Trafalgar square which is widely known for accommodating some of the most famous and hated politicians in the United Kingdom. The piece suggests relation to recent currant affairs, in particular “Brexit.” The elongated thumb displays a distortion and also a heightened element of humour and sarcasm due to the resemblance of a falice which may have been designed to depict the result of Brexit and the negatice reaction, or even a negative inference at ukip.
“Really good” is a sculpture formed of bronze which in relation to the brexit movement highlights the idea or irreversibility. I feel the piece is intentionally placed on a pedestal that enables it to sit noticeably higher than the house of parliament to suggests that Brexit as a movement will become a historical event. And that it will also shape the lives of people around the world not just the members of parliament.
The beauty of the piece lies within its simplicity and enigmatic qualities. Despite the artificial and mechanical appearance, the piece itself emits a level of positivity and self fulfilling prophecy. “Really Good” links to the patriarchy of Britain, and could also relate to the idea of “typically British things” such as “have a good day” sarcastically said at checkouts and “sorry for all delays on this over ground service” at all popular London stations which in itself adds an element of humour and forces an electric smile due to relativity.
David Shrigleys “Really good” is not only controversial but I admire the idea that it refuses to be unlikeable. The piece radiates the idea that bad art can prove as much thought as good art there is meaning displayed that is deliberate and elusive yet the meaning is self imposed and self taught. “really good” acts upon and thrives off individual spectualiaion and controversy relating the piece to the mind set of an individual. A divide is created within society in accordance to natural pessimist states in comparison to those of a positive upbeat mind-set. “Really Good” displays the idea of the art work becoming the interpretation of the piece which I feel is the intended outcome due to the subtlety and freedom simplicity allows and encourouges.
 R.garnett 2016
Hm prison Reading opened for the first time to the public so artists and writers could respond to a notorious inmate Oscar Wilde. The prison itself is spilt into three wings (A wing, B wing and c wing) yet each wing had the same eerie and sanitary feel. The prison itself displays systematic structure. This is emphasized by the basic design with the intention to induce self reflection. The basic colour scheme creates an unexposed lifeless atmosphere which is unanticipated due to the amount of living beings that would have been held there. Despite this, the walls of the cells became the equivalent to a life source. Graffiti was displayed to communicate and rebel against the rudimentary aesthetic and restricted and regimented environment.
Marlene Dumas displays her work at the beginning of the exhibition the A wing. The work itself is challenging and Dumas is well known for confronting difficult topics such as constructions of identity and the unsolidified divisions between private and public and also the divides between the social constructs of gender. Dumas displays Oscar Wilde as a single figure painted with yellow hands. The placement of the hands indicates an idea of restriction, yet the colour yellow presents connotations to the idea of “happiness” with the possible intention being to explore and juxtapose the idea of being incarcerated but free. “Freedom” linking to the idea of wilde being open and honest about his sexuality. However, the painted hands could also indicate the idea of taint. The yellow colouring may have been used to indicate a process of rotting in a restricted space environment where the separated system of the inmates meant he was unable to socialize which in turn led to the idea of happiness and sanity flowing from his body. It may also be the intention Of Dumas to depict that Oscar Wilde was displayed to the public as a tainted and criminal man and by doing so was kept and categorized alongside prisoners who had been convicted unthinkable crimes highlighting the extreme comparisons between his reason for incarceration and other inmates.
Nan Goldins display contrasts from the subtle nature of Dumas. Goldin explores in depth sexuality through the use of obsession and desire. Goldin displays the piece “The boy” where the cell is plastered with photographs of the German actor “Clemens shock.” The piece itself although explicit can be perceived as an appreciation and celebration of the male form. The use of photographs on a wall link to the idea of a teenage obsession, one that some young people will have with bands, celebrities etc stereotypically young females. Each photo although displaying sexual acts doesn’t display a singular focus on genetalia as an aspect. This Highlights a link to a love of the person rather than a love of the act. Referring to the similarity of display to one of a teenage bedroom Nan Goldin has created a muse to display the awareness of power that his lover held over him fusing with the construction of a teenage love infatuation. Goldin connects this to Wildes lover Bosie and the fixation and fascination that Wilde had for him. The conceptualism behind the piece has an innocence about it yet the graphic nature conflicts with this and in turn exhibits a seduction of danger.