Target Gallery, the contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center, presents work by three women who use the female body to explore issues of equity, power, politics, and memory in A (Mis)Perceived Physique: Bodyscapes by Three Women Artists, on view Saturday, September 3 through Sunday, October 16.
Artists Allana Clarke, Lauren Kalman, and Carolina Mayorga implement the body in desperate ways and contribute to a common narrative about body imagery—past and present. These women assert their own agency and address body politics as another construct of power, both internally and externally driven.
The trio was brought together by D.C.-based curator Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell, who organized the exhibition as part of Target Gallery’s second annual Open Call for Curatorial Proposals competition.
“History surrounds the viewer in this exhibition, as the past is made present and the present reflects the woes of the past,” said Bryant-Greenwell. “How far have body politics come since the height of the odalisque? What is the new role of the female body in art? These women do not offer concrete answers, but enlist the past to enflame the zeitgeist toward inclusive and critical exploration.”
Clarke’s eerie photography series Then and Now Seem to Shift Inside Me, and I Wonder How do you Imagine We Can Live Together in the Future sees the image of a black female body disappearing into the ocean. Her work acknowledges a failed social system, but also speak to an art-historical context that has used bodies like hers for the inclination of the male gaze, as well as male-dominated practicum. Visitor are challenged to think and look beyond the art gallery itself, and into current events to consider the discourse around body imagery and rights for black women.
Kalman’s video work highlights the uncomfortable connection of body image, class, and style in relation to dominance, corruption, and identity. Her videos feature strange nude figures balancing oversized objects, affecting their movements, suggesting an unbalanced relationship between adornment and the female body. By highlighting the conflict of ornamentation and identity, she provokes the viewer to consider societal obsession with both.
Mayorga’s photographic series references art-historical images of the Madonna. She turns commentary of the male obsession with the restrictive moral expectations and behaviors of women toward issues of consumerism, gentrification, and class. By using her own face as the Madonna’s, she courts deeper engagement with viewers.
Bryant-Greenwell’s exhibition was selected as part of the 2016 Open Call for Curatorial Proposals competition by Virginia Treanor, associate curator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
“This exhibition provides a space for curators to present ideas to us that generate cross-cultural dialogue,” said Leslie Mounaime, Target Gallery director. “Kayleigh’s brought together work that reflects the ongoing debates and struggles to control women’s bodies. We are looking forward to the opportunity to present this exhibition in Target Gallery.”