While female artists have been almost absent from the cultural landscape, the women’s body has always been a favorite subject through art history. Nudity remains a taboo concept, frequently addresses into creative works, in a visual space where constraints are unleashed, while the ideas of comfort and conformity shift in meaning. As the art world continues to evolve, women are beginning to be accepted as skilled artists, capable of establishing their own aspirational idea of beauty and womanhood, through boundless creative techniques. Art galleries have developed into secure spaces where women have the loudest voice, without speaking a word, regardless how naked or dressed. The entire artistic experiment is building up an environment in which the psychological unavailability has finally earned the required amount of time to be noticed and analyzed, the display of skin does not translate as an invitation, and reactions are not governed by instincts. Would we ever be capable to hear the silence of a semi-naked women in any other circumstances? Isn’t it curious, how the same figure could both empty of desire and fuel with craving, only based on the context?
LIVE ACTS ARE THE PURPOSEFUL MASTERPIECES
Vanessa Beecroft – the Michelangelo of post-modern sexuality
Vanessa Beecroft, Italian artist activating in the fields of performance, photography and painting and specialized on live acts is definitely included in the “must-know” category of contemporary artists, shaping the concept of post-modern sexuality. Her art is doubtlessly strong, challenging, hypnotic and nothing alike the conventional pieces aiming to flatter the public by tapping on their fantasies. She aims to confront, fascinate or even sentence the viewer, making him think and rethink, resist and desire, collapse and control, everything throughout her tense, few-hours acts. Her conceptual interpretations are centered on nude or semi-nude women. She started the series of VB performances in 1993, documenting them through polaroid photography and she is actively collaborating with brands such as Saint Laurent, Valentino, Burberry and artists like Kanye West.
Vanessa Beecroft by Ezra Petronio, via selfservicemagazine.com
„VB 35”, artistic act destined to be perceived as a live drawing with the aim of a three-dimensionally perspective, was presented in 1998 at the Guggenheim Museum, New York. The scene featured 20 slender models, 15 wearing Gucci bikinis, with red ornaments, high heels, the rest being completely naked. As a signature for most of her shows, the artist chooses to display naked bodies in front of an all dressed-up audience, creating a contrast between the shame of nudity and reality: “I wanted to see the reaction of the people coming in, all dressed up. I’m ashamed of the nude body myself, and so I throw it in the face of people. This is naked, so what! Take it! I never felt like I was objectifying them”. The 20 models seem to be lifeless mannequins, with no emotions, looking at the public completely unrestrained, as if they confronted the ones that may view them as objects. Her performance is centralized on the observation of the naked body, together with its psychological impact as a conventional reality, persuading the viewer to analyze his own dissatisfactions. The exhibit of nakedness in a live artistic act questions all the bias and tabu conceptions associated to the total exposure of body, replacing the frequent judgmental approach of the bystanders with a vivid reflection.
Images via artsy.net and sothebys.com
Image via amazon.com
Next time you listen to Kanye West-Runaway, watch the full video, produced in collaboration with Beecroft.
Vanessa Beecroft for Saint Laurent, 2018; via youtube.com
Maria Agureeva – the fresh face of art, upholding unfiltered beauty
“Guest Book”, 2015, by Maria Agureeva, Russian artist specializing in live performances, video, sculpture and photography, treats the same social principles through the metaphorical exposition of women. Her main objective is to decompose the superficial social norms centralized on the physical aspect, conceding the authenticity and externalizing the clichés promoted in the media- main producer of unrealistic templates.
Maria Agureeva displays her own body, establishing a direct, boundless interaction between artist and the viewer. She is exposing herself without filter, without makeup, wearing only skin-colored underwear, allowing the audience to write any kind of reviews, suggestions or thoughts about her appearance, on the wall behind her; the cold attitude and the space full of inanimate sculptures emphasized the idea of perceiving the body as an object. After only an hour, the surface was loaded with ignorant critics and labels, such as “whore” or “wrinkled.” The results confirmed the frivolous vision of society, main catalyst of the obsessive desire to achieve imposed standards of perfection. Maria draws attention to the social pressure that pushes us to “self-design” our image in order to obtain false approval and ephemeral acceptance: „I explore social norms of clichéd attractiveness, which pushes us to polish our own image just as people polish billions of images on the Internet.” Her position in the room, facing the audience, but turning her back on the written criticism and comments, is a way of inspiring the public to overcome influence, obsession to fit in and be praised by the crowd. The performance is disclosing how social tension and external opinions represent the first step in altering naturality and the true, unpolished self, “investigating and reacting to two factors: firstly, how we treat our own bodies as objects by presenting augmented versions; and secondly in how others perceive us”.
Images via agureeva.com
Art is not only a form to gladden the eye, but a social experiment, unveiling realities by the way spectators connect to what they observe. The inspiring artworks centered on the meanings of being woman and the rise of female artists are encouraging a shift from only praising the body as instrument of pleasure to its glorification as platonic life concept, exceeding skin and physical touch.
So … embrace your body, it’s already a work of art!
An article by Catinca Negut
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