Unsaid ...

    

 



White Canvas Gallery

An exhibition by Mela Fitzgibbon, Majena Mafe, and Judy-Ann Moule opens at White Canvas Space Gallery on Saturday 8th May at 6.30pm. This show is shrill despite its title. Featuring a variety of works from a selection of subversive, fine embroideries featuring erotic Rococo-esque nudes by Fitzgibbon, to an outsized, massive abacus figuring the sound of calculation by Moule, to a very noisy video piece that converses with itself by Mafe - the 'unsaid' is very poignantly… said. The 'unsaid' is a form of tension which is artistically, culturally and, in particular, socially peculiar to issues that are termed gendered specific. This show creates a new frame of reference for speaking out and up and over the hurdles that is silence, silence of the material of art and of all matter…

Fitzgibbon, making a triumphant return to exhibiting, works widely with feminist issues often engaging traditional domestic techniques of embroidery to readdress holes in the matrix of women's lives… especially the unsaid; Mafe, a digital sound and video artist, is presently doing a PhD at QUT on sound in language and has been exhibiting for over 30 years - her works have been shown nationally and internationally most recently in London; Moule, with 19 years of exhibition experience, also doing a Research Masters (QUT) works with hair and teeth as she focuses on body and memory phenomenologically.

 

 ... unsaid ...


What is there to be said about the unsaid when it comes to the female body? How do we unsay the male gaze. It's ... 

Voyeurism of the female nude

Exhibitionism of a young woman of dubious morals

The perception of the purpose of a woman's body, a woman's worth

Saying 

Pin-up, seductress, lover

Mistress, concubine, whore, slut

Madonna, breeder, nurturer, giver of life

What's it to be?

Then there's the loop that runs in a woman's head; a dialogue of self-identity. This series of embroideries considers the phenomenon in art history of the female nude being a pornographic titillation for private viewing...for the male gaze. Women in earlier centuries were encased in restrictive corsets and panniers and layers upon layers of cumbersome impenetrable fabric in order to uphold the expectation of decency and modesty, but beneath the facade, the beauty and wantonness of female flesh and folds, was where the prize lay...a release for lust or a breeding machine...a woman's worth. But how did women and girls express their unsaid?

Each purposeful delicate stitch holds me in the moment; redrawing and redrawing the image, stitching quickly as the image fades. Working on crisp and lustrous dupion silk, a satisfying and sensual experience in itself, links me to the luxurious precious fabrics of aristocratic life in the 18th century. The simplicity of a line drawing transferred into stitch can convey a single intimate moment in time or an entire period in history. By using embroidery for the mark-making I reflect on the 'genteel' 'feminine' art which occupied women of privileged status whether it fulfilled them or left them wanting more of life.

 "Leda revisited" hand-embroidered dupion silk, hoop ...

With reference to "Leda and the Swan", by Boucher drawing upon Greek mythology for his erotic images he could legitimize the pornographic portrayal of young women at men's disposal.

 

 

 

"Pneumatic Nude" hand-embroidered dupion silk, hoop ...

 Folds and folds of flesh and fabric. What's not to love about this?

 

 

 

"I have no lips with which to speak or sigh..."hand-embroidered dupion silk, hoop...

The omission of the face on the reclining young woman renders her silenced and all the more exploitable.

 

 

 

"Mirror Mirror"  hand-embroidered glass organza  4m x 3m  ...

This large scale representation of Velasquez's "The Rokeby Venus" is an evolving project examining how women perceive themselves in light of society's expectation of them. Who does the mirror actually reflect? What is truth … and what is merely perception?

 

ACCOMPANIED BY SOUND PIECE .... woman breathing ... sighing ... scissors cutting fabric ... needle and thread being drawn through hoop-taut silk ... music box                                 

Through hand embroidery and sound this body of work considers the shifting notions of femininity and women's role in society. By the 18th century embroidery was considered to "come naturally" to women solely and by the 19th century it had become a symbol and instrument of women's subservience used to inculcate femininity in women. Juxtapose this against the erotic and voyeuristic depiction of the female nude used to titillate and satisfy the male gaze of those privileged with wealth and status. During the 18th Century Rousseau agued that a girl's propensity was for the art of pleasing. Where did this place the female?These images are loaded with untruths … the unsaid. By paraphrasing Boucher's paintings I transport them from the Rococo movement into a contemporary context within a feminist understanding, questioning how women have been perceived and valued and to what degree of ownership they have had over their own lives during the course of history. Jamming the erotic image with the genteel, feminine pursuit of embroidery creates a playful yet odd mix. I have used line drawing for its simplicity, honesty and directness unlike the complexity of this cultural phenomenon. The accompanying sound piece of scissors, sewing, sighing and a music box tinkling layers an eerie film of ambiguous sensuality around the work.