Seventeen artists from five continents come together to share photographs and videos that celebrate how women see themselves and the world around them
A new show has opened at London’s Whitechapel Gallery lensed entirely by the female gaze. Terrains of the Body brings together the photo and video work of 17 contemporary artists from five different continents – including Marina Abramović, Nan Goldin, and Rineke Dijkstra – and celebrates women as both creators and creative subjects. Spanning multiple decades of womanhood, it borrows work from Washington’s National Museum of Women in the Arts to provide a series of 24 images that recognise the female form as a vehicle for expressing personal and collective experiences.
Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović challenges the objectification of women in art by utilising her own body in often extreme, physical ways. In her 1974 performance, “Rhythm 0” (1974), she placed 72 objects on her body and invited viewers to interact with them. On show at Terrains of the Body, Abramović’s work is more personal, though it still makes a universal statement. “The Hero” (2001) sees Abramović sitting on a white horse as a tribute to her father’s time as a soldier in World War II. However, in waving a white flag of submission she questions male heroism.
Elsewhere, Nan Goldin, notorious for channelling personal experience to express wider ideas of female desire and sexuality, provides “Self-Portrait in Kimono with Brian” (1983) from her infamous and ever-evolving, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, series. Taken in a New York apartment next to ex-lover, Brian, the image gives us a window into the artist’s incredibly volatile world at the time.
Also featured is work by artist collective Icelandic Love Corporation, who consider the place of women in the art world, as well as imagery by Daniela Rossell – whose photo “Medusa”, from the 1999 Ricas y famosas series, might conjure up memories of an infamous Kendall Jenner Instagram remake.
Running until April, the exhibition offers a diverse representation of womanhood in art.
Terrains of the Body: Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts is on display at the Whitechapel Gallery until 16 April. The exhibition is free to attend