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My sensory apprehensions

Posted by Janet Payne on

Playing a pivotal role in this exhibition is the viewer’s sensorium. My sensory apprehensions linked my physical presence to the physicality of the works, which directed me to variances in readings, inflected by prior knowledge of La Centrale, of feminism and history, and of my own lived experiences a woman. This then channeled me to the sensorial aspects of the works, culminating in complete bodily, sensual engagement. It is at this point, as posited by Lisa Tickner, that the image garners its meaning wholly according to the nature and scope of the viewer’s interpretation. Thus, while these works are inevitably open to phallocentric readings, the potential for readings “against the grain” is an invaluable presence lying constant in each individual viewer.

The video program, including the works of Suzie Silver, Ayanna Udongo, Caroline Langill, Monique Moumblow and Vanalyne Green, further probes issues of female desire. Green’s video, A Spy in the House that Ruth Built (1989), uses baseball as a framework and documents the impact constructed gender roles have had on her experience of heterouality, turning it into an alien, yet internal, oppositionary force. She deems the litany of children’s stories associating men with evil as deceiving, for representations and encounters with men in the video are non-threatening and nonaggressive. The work concludes with Green accepting the male position and internalizing a sense of wholeness, thereby dissolving her perception of man as embodying a perceived lack within her. She chooses to bring to a stop the superiority of the Phallus through her own reorientation, and with a view to her own benefit – which, it may be posited, also works paradigmatically for the benefit of all.

All works in “Exquises duplicites/Indelicacies” identify with the predominant and constructed visions of gender, female uality and desire. Present everywhere despite its physical absence is a masculine counterpart, given form through its inherent interrelationship with the feminine. The works thus echo the ecological stance of Suzi Gablik, specifically her call for an inner wholeness created of an integration between masculine and feminine components in the psyche.

Significant in this exhibition is its use of the female body, automatically associated with male agencies of power, as a pathway to the re-gendered mind and spirit. This enactment of the interconnectedness between individual subjectivities and the wider sphere of culture reveals the expanse of progress within the realm of possibility. The future lies at a fork from which change may be either nurtured or drained of its vital thirst. At this site lies each individual, beholder of the ability to shift existing structures towards an ultimate fulfillment of the ecological self. The path cleared through this exhibition by specific subjects and sensoria results in a powerful experience of art, life, and the history that remains to take shape. As the grinding of Raynard’s chair, contortion of Dunning’s subject, and division of Safford’s women continue, we are left with tools and a strategy for the actualization of envisioned change.

Original Reference: Articles on Canvas Art