Including video, painting, photography, and installation, the exhibited artworks explore their ongoing research into the female gaze and question, more specifically, the relationship between outer image and inner character.
In 1975, the film theorist Laura Mulvey coined the notion of the male gaze in her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” which depicts the world from the narrow, masculine, heterosexual perspective prevailing in the Hollywood film industry at this time. This notion has since expanded in the following decades to decry and, more broady, — the domination of patriarchal values in Western societies in which women are too often objectified. Within these values, women are not judged on their abilities but reduced to specific qualities and physical criteria of appearance, both in relation to their representation in our visual media environment and in everyday social interactions.
Though the sociocultural impact of such marketing imagery has been loudly denounced in the last decade, our mainstream media environment is still marked by an emphasis on physical beauty and sexual appeal to others. In today’s social media-dominated world, not only is our visual experience biased by this still prevailing reductive imagery but our identities have been forged by these gendering representations, which affect how women feel about themselves, how they are perceived, and how they interact with others.
The “female gaze” in opposition is a ubiquitous term used in recent years to describe a movement that attempts to disestablish this omnipresent male perspective and to move towards portrayals and narratives that are more authentic, diverse, and empowering. In the arts, in particular, it addresses actual changes in society by forging new female perspectives and cementing the way women control their own identity.
To that extent, the exhibition is an invitation to question cultural assumptions of gender representation and to explore societal perceptions of female identity. Foregrounding women’s narratives in their artistic practices, the artists in the show set a clear distance to patriarchal repertoire. They present works that oscillate between personal, cultural, and collective identity, shedding light on differences, nuance, and interiority.