Technology changes how people show themselves to the world. An exhibit at Wesleyan University takes on this shift in personal presentation with the work of six female artists. Jason Stopa, curator of “A New Subjectivity,” says the title reflects changes in expressions of self that are particular to the 21st century.
“Oftentimes we receive people’s subjectivities vis a vis an avatar, on Instagram, Facebook, etc. That platform alters our relation to those individuals,” Stopa says. “People kind of perform their identities. You go into YouTube and somebody is doing makeup tutorials, and they’re the performer. They’re an individual and they’re charismatic and it’s totally scripted but they’re trying to make it look off-the-cuff.”
Gina Beavers, who contributed three works to the show, uses heavily textured acrylic paint to re-create those makeup tutorials, to comment on societal-dictated standards of female attractiveness.
Liz Markus comments on the performative aspect of self-presentation with three works, all depicting women posing like models, surrounded by indefinable backgrounds. In one, a huge, ominous head watches the model. In another, a black painted frame look like bars of a prison cell.
Katherine Bradford removes the gender from her figures and places them in environments that could be interpreted as frightening or neutral. In one, a person looks through black windows at the night, surrounded by upended tables and chairs. In another, figures dance toward a rising sun. What would seem like a dance of joy is contradicted by the title, “Fear of Dawn.”
Jackie Gendel reinterprets images from the history of art – Matisse, deKooning, Renaissance art – to show how the female gaze changes an artwork traditionally associated with the male gaze.
Other artists in the show are Katherine Bernhardt and Rose Wylie.
A NEW SUBJECTIVITY: FIGURATIVE PAINTING AFTER 2000 will open at Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on the Wesleyan University campus in Middletown on Feb. 8, with a reception starting at 4:30 p.m. It runs through March 4. wesleyan.edu/cfa.