|HEATHER ALLEN||Photographie und Skulptur
Eröffnung: Freitag den 23.7.99 ab19 Uhr;
Öffnungszeiten: Sa. 24.7/So. 25.7., jeweils 18-22 Uhr
Heather Allen's recent work extends her oeuvre beyond symbols of sexual
identity into considerations of voyeurism, sexuality, identity politics
and relationships. Here the artist deconstructs feminist narratives concerning
the male gaze in order to explore the psychological effects of female relationships
and self-perception within simulated scenarios.
By positioning her self-imaged figures within specific situations, in which she identifies herself by difference, the artist addresses her identity free from biography and instead anticipates and projects her own range of reactions.
Come on... (1998) presents a physical representation of a dialogue of self-encouragement. The enlargement of the photographic image in relation to the figurine indicates a deflation in self-esteem and isolation.
The subtle vulnerability conveyed in New shoes(1998) exaggerates this unconformable relationship when confronted with the unfamiliar addition of the shoes. The lone figure epitomizes the concept of 'shoe gazing' and introspection, as the shoe seem to reflect more a negative body image then a step in the right direction.
When juxtaposed with the same figure in the satirical sculpture, Little black dress (1998), a resurgence of positive self-image becomes immediately apparent. Here the central figure in the same shoes and sexy dress confronts her mirror image with confidence, deflecting the threatening gaze of the cloned, drab female onlookers.
The growth in contentment of the central figure's own sexuality within
Little black dress is taken to its logical conclusion in the final
sculpture, If the shelf fits... (1998). The exaggeration in scale
of the naked figure to those of the captivated audience inverts the codes
of self-perception conveyed in Come on... The figure's domination
of her environment reflects her psychological re-assessment of the difference
as distinction and empowerment rather than social alienation.
These post-feminist sculptures inject both poignancy and humour into the persistent issue of body image and sexual politics. The use of plasticine exaggerates the self-reflexivity of this work, making them less attempts at grand gender statements and more incidents in a process of self-exploration.
In short: Heather Allen's plasticine figures bring 'girrrl power' into
the gallery with both wit and charm.
ICA, London, 1998