Subject Matter Art


Subject Matter Visits: Terrains of the Body at the Whitechapel Gallery

Untitled (79), 2000, NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.


The Whitechapel Gallery in London’s East End never disappoints and the current show Terrains of the Body is truly superb.

Taken from the archive of the National Museum of Woman in the Arts in Washington DC, the exhibition brings together seventeen artists from five different continents, in an exploration of how women see and represent themselves.
Here is a small taster by the artists Hellen van Meene, Eve Sussman, Adriana Varejão and the female art collective Icelandic Love Corporation.


Hellen van Meene, Untitled, 2008


The pensive moods expressed by adolescents provide fertile ground for enigmatic portraits of young women by Hellen van Meene (b. 1972). With their warm natural light and uncomplicated compositions, van Meene’s photographs appear to be spontaneous snapshots, but they are painstakingly planned and executed.


Adriana Varejão, Qualquer Coisa, 1998, NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.


Adriana Varejão (b. 1964) often presents the body as a site expressing the human toll of colonialism, a deep-rooted part of her native Brazil’s history. In Qualquer Coisa (1998), a painted or tattooed hand reaches through an opening in the white background. The patterning on the arm resembles decoration on historical Chinese export porcelain, which Varejão frequently incorporates into her art as an emblem of Portuguese colonial trade.


Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation, Themis in the Birdcage , 2005, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.


Director Eve Sussman (b. 1961) and her collaborative team Rufus Corporation reimagined a well-known story, Romulus’s founding of ancient Rome, in their eighty-minute video The Rape of the Sabine Women (2005), set in an idealised 1960s. The video’s sumptuous shots are reflected in the sleek and evocative photographic stills produced by the team. An image of Greek actress Themis Bazaka seated on the deck of the modernist Lanaras House near Athens illuminates the artists’ meticulous design and staging processes.


Icelandic Love Corporation Where Do We Go from Here? 2000 Laserchrome


The Icelandic Love Corporation is a group of three artists who met at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts in 1996, and whose works look at femininity through humour.

Terrains of the Body is on display at the Whitechapel Gallery until the 17th April 2017. 

Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High St
E1 7QX

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