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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
77-82 Whitechapel High St