U N D E F I N E D | curated by the Dead Bunny Society
01 december 2016 – 21 january 2017
Fried Contemporary is pleased to present an exhibition curated by the Dead Bunny Society
Alexia Cocolas | Minien Hattingh | Stefanie Langenhoven | Laetitia Lups | Shenaz Mahomed | Alison Jean Shaw
ALEXIA COCOLAS and STEFANIE LANGENHOVEN (SILK WORM) | This work deals with the distortion and suppression of the female identity; how disfigured concepts of what it means to be a woman are projected onto women by both sexes. And, how we (as females) embody this twisted conditioning, model it for each other as well as fight within our own bodies to find an understanding, an authenticity and a freedom in what it means to feel and be a woman.
The title “Silk Worm” represents the work through different stages of transformation. The word “Silk” stands apart from the word “Worm”, to emphasise the dichotomy we find within ourselves.
Being feminine can be associated with a silk-like quality – “having qualities or an appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness” is one of many similar definitions of “feminine” that we stumbled upon during this process.
Women give birth to life, a wonderful and mysterious concept, but female bodies and the darkness or the unknown of the creative unconscious (the unconscious being associated with the feminine) are seen as unclean and fearful, and so we too resonate with “the worm”. Apart from being an invertebrate animal, the worm is also defined as “a weak or despicable person (often used as a general term of abuse)”. A concept that women (and men) have been taught to internalise when it comes to feeling into the parts that make up our feminine attributes, through years of patriarchal training.
MINIEN HATTINGH | The symbolism of a nightingale is quite enigmatic as it surrounds itself with sorrow and joy. These four photographic works form part of a body of work entitled CAGED/ unCAGED. The subject matter primarily consists of the female figure compared to the nightingale, exploring the relationship between imprisonment and aesthetic.
Lynda Nead describes the female nude as a means of containing femininity and female sexuality. This can be sub-divided into three categories. Namely to “contain and to regulate the abject female identity” by means of chastity and aesthetic portrayal. To “reform and harden” the female toward a sculpted body and finally, viewing the female body according to certain social constructs and “norms”.
The female figures in the works are nude but their privy parts are covered.
The works adopt a semi-Romantic approach as beauty, intuition and spirit in the creation of all works is emphasised.
Romanticism is refocused on loss and regaining of the voice. The nightingale’s song becomes the author/ artist’s song/voice. If a nightingale is caged it refuses to sing. Similarly a female cannot thrive in a caged disposition.
Self Preservation: “Forever Young”
The performative photographic piece “Forever Young” illustrates the discourse of aestheticism. Daily rituals comprised of rejuvenating commodities are religiously conformed to, hoping to preserve beauty and youth, and strive for immortality.
Self-preservation is the innate behaviour to stay alive whilst protecting oneself from harm and destruction.
The most tangible idea when reasoning preservation in general terms consists of “bottling food”. This palpable association plays on the construct of bottling beauty or the “aesthetic”. The consideration of the use of bottles stresses the no- tion of interactive art. One can pick up these bottles, look at them or even open them if desired. Similarly the attention and interest that these bottles will obtain, reflects the same attention and interest women contract by means of beauty and youth. Thus it can also be argued that the female form is objectified as it is placed on display for all to see.
The illusion of nakedness in this sense is for those who are dressed, mainly applying to male viewers, as John Berger explains. This is thus a signifier of the male desire. An act of voyeurism can be claimed as one peeks inside the jars or opens them up, defying the male gaze, as some images knowingly stare back. The size of the “bottled images” demonstrates an intimate engagement.
When looking at the bottled images they form a timeline of idealized sensual and smooth forms. Each jar presents constant self-evaluation and experimentation that has to take place to notice a result.
The pursuit of eternal youth and beauty is a never-ending obsession of humanity. The means of preserving the body(beauty) evolve (embalming, cryogenics, cloning); yet the goal of being immortal is thus far unattainable. Furthermore, the performance addresses the vanity of humans and the narcissistic obsession with the body. The body almost becomes an artwork frozen in time by means of constant sculpting, modifying and surgery. The body is the new canvas, as the self conveys a narcissistic andimmortal object of self-preservation.
LAETITIA LUPS | At first glance it looks like the work is about individual identity. On further
Inspection, you realise that the work comments on a tension between what we think we are, and what and who we define ourselves as. In fact, we are not what we think we are. We are the products of the society in which we live. It is as much about the rules that we are controlled by as what is considered fashionable at a particular point in history. I attempt to make work that blurs the line between personal lived reality and the representation of reality in art and history.
SHENAZ MAHOMED | The fragile, intricate and delicate artworks created are used to depict complexities within cultural identity. Consciously working from a particular religious and cultural perspective, I aim to explore and re-mystify the process of making art – challenging the constraints of such a precious and sensitive subject in contemporary culture. My works evoke an almost confrontational quality by placing the audience face to face with the recurring image of an unfamiliar and ambivalent female Muslim figure.
ALISON JEAN SHAW | Directing Trepenation
Notions (and motions) surrounding this particular body, The Darling Wound, often involve desire and how this expresses itself through the creative process and ultimately, an onlooker. Personally, a subjective expression can often be the facilitator of a somewhat intimate dialogue, introspective or projected. To assist the exchange, I use a number of tropes with which one could empathise – monks, gods, Mary’s, keyholes, and “like a virgin needs a martyr”, suggestion is marked as universal as laughter. It has been said that “he who laughs most, learns best.”
An exploration of the tension between personal and public female identity, as it plays out in the lived reality of various artists. Their work deals with uneasy internalisations and performances of “feminity”, using art as a means of representation to question or subvert traditional representations of what it means to be a woman.