Installment 2: The Female Gaze

cheim & readUnfortunately, we missed this one on the gallery hop last Thursday night in Chelsea, due to unexpectedly closed doors at Cheim & Read, but it is on the agenda for the next trip to the west side. The impressive roster includes names from Jenny Holzer to Kara Walker to Bernice Abbott, and of course, Louise Bourgeoise.  From photography to painting and sculpture, the gallery aims to present a twist on the traditional understanding of the gaze in the canon.  The curator has selected female artists looking at female subjects.  The French feminist movement started to challenge what Laura Mulvey identifies as the “male gaze” in her essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema: “the male, based on his desire for the female form, determines the way in which the female is perceived, thereby reducing her role to one of passivity and pleasure.”  The female identity and voice is traditionally only created and communicated by the male’s representation.

“The show seeks to present a collection of works which reclaim the traditional domination of the “male gaze” and reorient the significance of the female figure to allow for more varied interpretations… This exhibition attempts to debunk the notion of the male gaze by providing a group of works in which the artist and subject do not relate as “voyeur” and “object,” but as woman and woman. It would be interesting to ask the question how we would feel about the works in the exhibition if we were told they were made by a man.”

See the gallery walkthrough here, courtesy of the Douglas Kelly Show.

Unfortunately, we don’t see the aesthetic cohesion across the 41 (count them, 41) works, although the thought was nice in collecting these works in one place, maybe (when do “feminist artists” become just artists?) But are these works representative of each artist’s body of work?  Or are these carefully chosen to make the curator’s point for this single show?  We’ll have to see it in person (at 547 West 25th Street) to decide if the room by room arrangements make a strong enough statement… QUICK -it’s only up until September 19.

(installation photograph courtesy of Cheim & Read)