An exhibition by Perth photographer Louella Martin.

This series of photographs is a result of the artist undertaking an honours project at Edith Cowan University that aims to critique the objectification of the female form within visual art. The female as an art form is an icon of beauty and sensuality that has been shaped and transformed to historically reflect the moral and aesthetic ideals of patriarchal culture. Through the artistic strategy of gender performance this series of photographs challenges and reverses gender stereotypes within visual art, questioning the conventional modes of desire that attach themselves to the woman’s body. Accompanying these images are large-scale portraits that gaze over the spectator, which is the artists attempt at reflecting male dominance within visual arts and it’s perpetuated attitude within the western art institutions. In addition, influenced by the work of the Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi who depicted biblical scenes of women in acts that epitomised their strength and courage, it is the aim of this exhibition to contemporise her work and reflect the woman as not a subject of beauty but of power. Through this artistic interpretation it is the aim of this project to produce photographs that advocate a reshaping of the way that the female form, rather then the female artist is depicted on the walls of major art institutions.

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This is how I feel when you look at me: Photographing and subverting the male gaze is an exhibition by Perth photographer Louella Martin. This series of photographs is a result of the artist undertaking an honours project at Edith Cowan University that aims to critique the objectification of the female form within visual art. The female as an art form is an icon of beauty and sensuality that has been shaped and transformed to historically reflect the moral and aesthetic ideals of patriarchal culture. Through the artistic strategy of gender performance this series of photographs challenges, subverts and reverses gender stereotypes within visual art, questioning the conventional modes of desire that attach themselves to the woman’s body.

This body will be shown in an exhibition at Kurb Gallery in Perth, WA.

Facebook event invite link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/743672522363073/

Opening Night
Saturday 25th October
6pm
Booze and nibbles provided.

Exhibition Continues
26th October – 31st October
11am-5pm daily.

Kurb Gallery
312A William st
Northbridge

The Gaze The Feminised Male

Judith Slaying Holofernes

My desire is to take photos that fit my worldview. I am Australian and I desire to portray that in an idealized nostalgic sense in spite of my propensity to be tragic. This series formulates a collection of fragments that are both metaphorical and ambiguous. I have a desire to be at the centre of these things and project myself out of them. The family album is a portrayal of the intimacy of all that I love. Man and nature are one. The landscape that encircles the continent is a metaphor for the metaphysical being of the Australian – strong, resilient and fertile. Through overlaying two images of my own photography I uncover what is essentially my self or in an attempt to be the self. How can I focus all of that in a moment? A moment that heralds the birth of my identity. It will of course be the sum collection of the body of my work and the moment of my physical death. What is the self? Can I change? Yes I will evolve.

EquinoxDiaphanousAberrantAbyssopelagicApricityCygnetLackadaisicalIncarnadineNebulousEnigmaUbiquitousWillowEgregiousLambentSidereal

I recently submitted this entry for http://www.booooooom.com/ remake competition . It’s a  pastiche of CIndy Sherman’s Untitled film still #48.

During the 1960’s a revolution took place that subdued the profound power that men had over women and handed them rights and responsibilities outside the kitchen and into the workforce and educational realm. However, it may be argued that this social battle is unfinished and is a major force in the work of the photographer Cindy Sherman. Sherman moved to New York and rented a loft alone in lower Manhattan, but the large city and shady inhabitants locked her away. However, this was more a creative blessing in the end then a burden. Sherman’s only model is herself and she becomes a Director and an Actress in her own melodramas. Through these works she has been seen as the controversial artist of the 70’s and 80’s challenging the female stereotype and their voyeuristic stance. Sherman stated in an interview with John Zinsser, “I would hope that these images would make people confront their own feelings about sex, pornography, or erotic images and their own bodies (Zinsser, 1998).” In the late 1970’s – 1980’s Cindy Sherman became infamous for her critique on the female stereotypes producing a selected work named ‘Untitled Film Stills.’ The idea behind this was to create and photograph uncomfortable feminine roles pronounced ‘normal’ in society. These images went on to help in the feminist struggle away from the male gaze. Her work went on to become more sexually orientated and powerfully signifed violations against women and their bodies through a series of centrefold images culture through subtle elements in her photos. The women portrayed in these images can seen to be the ‘victim’ tortured by the male gaze in a voyeuristic sense. To protest censorship in art, Cindy Sherman produced the Sex Pictures series, which was violent, gruesome and leaves the viewer in disgust. She used mannequins to portray sexually suggestive images without compromising her values.

“Her work has been canonized as a hallmark of postmodernist art because they utilize mass-media codes and techniques of representation in order to comment on contemporary society (“Biography (Cindy Sherman),” 2004.).” Sherman’s work is about assuming roles for the camera to capture and portray; she plays a type – usually a female fictional stereotype. “I was into the more perverse side of dressing up, or becoming old, or a monster, or somebody else, not like being some pretty role model,” quotes Sherman.

Her talent does not rely on the technical aspects of photography but on the message of the final image. For example, she used black and white photos to enhance the image rather than to create the image. Her style consisted of borrowed cinematic techniques, including dramatic lighting, scenery, and framing. The subjects themselves that Sherman creates to portray ashamed alienated women include blank, expressionless stares to leave the viewer to construct our own narratives for these women. She also uses props (i.e mannequins, dolls, fake body parts etc.) to enhance the feeling whether it is sadness, disgust or guilt that we feel about ourselves when viewing these haunting images. Cindy Sherman is a major American artistic icon that has played a role in shaping the way in which we view the female and her roles as well as protesting against sexual censorship within art. Therefore, there are many critics who analyis and critise her commentary on our western society roles. “The work is an unsentimental comment on gender roles, of course, but it’s not only that. It simultaneously captures, poignantly, the play of adolescent dreaming. If Sherman once played dress-up with her mother’s clothes, now she rages through the American closet, assuming and throwing away identities (Stevens, M. p. 1)..” He communicates to the reader that even now, almost thirty years on her art is still as powerful, and even more ambiguous as it has ever been. I chose Cindy Sherman as I can relate to some of the images that she has created about the female stereotypes and subjected to the voyeurism of the male gaze. Even though her most of her subjects are strange they play of reality and therefore her message is subtle giving a poetic beauty to even some of her grotesque images. The props, costumes, scenery, lighting, and every part of the composition can tell a narrative without a single word. The images can evoke emotions to any viewer who can relate to the women Sherman portrays. By researching Sherman and her photography skills I hoped to create the same sense of emotion and alienation of Untitled Film Still 48 on her lonely road into the abyss. I used the same techniques; costume -housewife, prop -packed bag, scenery – lone road, subject – self-portrait, with ambient lighting. The girl with the floral skirt, the virginal white blouse, overlapped with a messy bun tied in a rage of anger. What was the last word? Forgot with a zip and a thud. The fingers fold over the handle. The drag into the cold echo of the lonely night beckoning her into the depth of pity. The viewer peering inwards. Just experienced? No, going to? What next? Awful? Bliss? The chemicals bathe her black and white body hoping for a twist. An ending at least.

Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still #48

Louella Martin's remake of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still #48

“If women come in for a check up and their blood pressure is raised, we can take care of it, but if she doesn’t come, what will happen?” Dr Muna Shalima Jahan, Assistant Professor (Gynae & Obs) at Sir Salimullah Medical college.

In Islamic cultures the men are the power structures within the family. It is only when he decides that a woman needs to seek a doctor is she able to do so. Her ailments are cloaked with invisibility if cost is an issue. For treatment at Dhaka Medical College it averages around a hundred Taka, but for poorer families this can still be more than they can spare. Yet, when considering the average cost of a normal birth in the United States of America is $6000-$8000, a hundred Taka ($1.20) is good motivation from the government to provide to-be mothers and their unborn babies with treatment.

I could simply state that the maternal mortality rate in Bangladesh is 340 per 100,000 live births or that the government is funding incentives to reduce that number by half before 2015. However, the numbers are not what my story is about. My story is about the women, the fear in their eyes, the sickness running through their veins and convulsing in their muscles. The haunting whispers in their ear that death is looming for both them and their child. The feeling when the doctors utter it could have been avoided if they had just sought out help sooner. The caves of their mouths lie dormant, waiting for the bear of courage to enter in a raw of rage. Yet, these women have such a quite strength within them, it is a part of their very nature written in their posture. Even with a hovering outcome, they want to continue, to invite you over to their house and cook you a meal. Or even let you pick the nickname of their unborn child, such a kindness and might have only have been handed down by their own mother.

Haemorrhaging is the main cause of maternal mortality, both anti-partum and post-partum. Twenty per cent of maternal mortality in Bangladesh is caused by eclampsia – it is produced by hypertension during pregnancy. This condition is easily treatable, yet the education and awareness of the topic has rarely been touched as a subject matter. There is a saying in Pakistan: If your cow dies it is a tragedy, if your wife dies you can always find another. With this kind of attitude towards women it is understandable why an easy treatable ailment remains at such a high level of attainment in developing countries. Only when the thought process of the individual changes can the mother be thought as a critical member of the family, whose teachings to their own daughter are ones of value and strength. Hopefully by 2015 the maternal mortality rate will be halved and when a woman dies it will be a tragedy.