The Flowers Gallery on Kingsland Road is hosting yet another magnificent exhibition; I have written about their previous exhibitions Esther Teichmann: On Sleeping and Drowning and Shen Wei; both exploring identity and personal experience through photography.
Their new exhibition ‘Her Ground’ celebrates women photographers as it displays a collection of work that uses landscapes as a thematic focus to discuss gender and genre from women’s perspective. These photographs are all taken from bigger, separate collections and are gathered here under the idea of landscape and gender - the exhibition explores both of them in interesting and thought provoking ways.
Scarlett Hooft Graafland's photograph 'Discovery' hits you as you walk into the exhibition; the way the desert heat might. A photograph of a cactus. But with closer inspection one will notice there are two naked legs wrapped around the base of the cactus - making for a hundred metaphors. Does the Phallic shape of the plant represent the prickly and rough domination of men? Or is it a comment on the shaming of women's genitalia?
There is so much surrounding women's genitalia such as periods, child birth, hair removal - or no hair removal - cleanliness and puberty. However women's genitalia is made a taboo subject in the mainstream - mainly because it's deemed too sexual or the myth that women's genitalia is only for sex must be preserved. It feels like this big, forbidding subject that has a lot of shame put onto it. And when growing up - that can feel very scary.
However, this photograph could also represent a female sexual awakening or discovery... The list of metaphors and interpretations goes on.
With many of the photographs being desert landscapes, the intensity of that climate is felt in this gallery space. I am a film graduate - and one of the most important things when writing or creating a film is the environment. It can be a metaphor for the narrative or for the characters. When writing a scene - where that scene is situated can effect the entire tone; it can show the subconscious feelings of the character involved. And that is what this exhibition is all about. The desert landscape photographed in Mona Kuhn's work really makes a metaphorical connection with the idea of 'women.'
A dangerous land. Nearly all plants and animals cannot survive here. The intense heat - captured by the contrasting black and white - scorches out anything delicate or pretty. And on the wall next to this photograph, another photograph, taken in the same landscape of a naked women - her arm stretching slowly into that devastatingly ruthless sunlight.
Her nakedness shows a purity; like an innocence about to be scorched.
There could be two possible interpretations, firstly; 'Woman' is a delicate creature not meant for this harsh environment. Or maybe that 'woman' is a delicate creature... But surviving in this environment just fine - she is a lot tougher than she appears.
In this gallery there was a photograph that gave me a feeling of unease as I looked round at the other pieces of work and felt it hanging on the wall behind me. A cave. Standing in front of it I felt Lisa Barnard has captured in this photograph that poignant fear. That darkness in the rocks what might be lurking there? For many women, there is a fear simply because they are a women. And being a woman, sometimes, puts you at a lot of risk.
Other pieces of Lisa Barnard's work include, what I would call an oasis, within yet again another arid climate. The oasis of life being lived and enjoyed - an oasis of freedom. A women's football team, and their football pitch photographed against the backdrop of the Andes in Peru. Today women playing football can still be seen as 'breaking a stereotype'.
All artwork resonates with people differently, and my interpretations are from looking at these pieces with the backdrop of 'gender.' And as I am a young woman myself my interpretations come from a personal standpoint - and other people will have their own interpretations.
Usually narratives from women have to follow a stereotype - they are allowed to express themselves but only through designated narratives for women like ‘chick-flicks.’ But the Flowers Gallery has given a space for women to talk about feelings, experiences and thoughts through art however they want.
It celebrates women in art and the voice they have. I feel very content when standing in the gallery surrounded by female works, all speaking a language I can understand, as a young women it’s good to have that input and influence of artistic women’s perspective.
This exhibition comes after Esther Teichmann: On Sleeping and Drowning, as I previously mentioned, and it is so great to see yet more female artists being displayed here.
The exhibition includes nine women photographers - all of their work is thought provoking and shows a real celebration of women in their artistic perspective. I love looking at the world through an artist's eyes, and this exhibition showcases so many viewpoints - as well as letting woman be the one to tell that story. I shall list below the women whose work contributed to the making of this exhibition. What wonderful artists they all are!
RikkeFlensberg© courtesy of Flowers Gallery
CorinneSilva© courtesy of Flowers Gallery
AnastasiaSamoylova© courtesy of Flowers Gallery
MajaDaniels© courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Written by Caroline Louise Hamar.
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