SEEPING UPWARDS, RUPTURING THE SURFACE
A FEATURED EXHIBITION FOR THE SCOTIABANK CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL
MAY 3 - JUNE 17, 2018
seeping upwards, rupturing the surface takes as a starting point 'sad girl theory;' the proposition that displays of emotionality in women and girls can be acts of resistance. Connecting the porousness of the body with that of images and screens, physical manifestations of female emotion represent a way of taking up space, breaking through boundaries of patriarchal culture, and forging new modes of engagement with the world and connection with others.
Featuring | Eleni Bagaki, Maya Ben David and Tobias Williams, Maisie Cousins, Dayna Danger, Erika DeFreitas, Danièle Dennie, Lotte Meret Effinger, Doreen Garner, Talia Shipman, Molly Soda, Ambera Wellmann, Zhu Tian
"Sad Girl Theory proposes that the sadness of girls should be recognised as an act of resistance... Girls' sadness is not passive, self-involved or shallow; it is a gesture of liberation, it is articulate and informed, it is a way of reclaiming agency over our bodies, identities, and lives." - Audrey Wollen
"... yet within the image there is often something that doesn't deliver, like a rupture in the surface, so it doesn't offer up the pleasure and seduction it's promising." - Petrina Hicks
The concept of 'sad girl theory' has recently emerged as something of a buzz word of the fourth-wave feminism of the digital era. It proposes that the visible display of sadness by girls and women is an act of resistance to traditional ideas of performing the female body and female autonomy. The corporeal nature of emotions including, but not limited to, sadness, draws connections to ideas of the porousness of the female body. In Classical Greek thought the power of the masculine derived from maintaining secure boundaries, of thought and of the body. Women with their more 'porous' bodies, were considered unable to maintain these boundaries, their emotions constantly threatened to overflow and disrupt them.
The works included in this exhibition unabashed, visceral, and at times grotesque, suggest that the physical manifestations of female emotion the tears of sadness, the frothing spittle of anger, and the slippery secretions of what has frequently been used against women into an asset. These actions, images, and performances break through boundaries of patriarchal culture and forge new modes of engagement with and connection to the world and each other, particularly in the current era of digital images and screens. The screen itself is inherently bodily. It is an eye, a mouth, a limb; in the form of our personal devices it even asks to be touched. It is through these portals that we connect with other bodies, and with the world. The works in this exhibition rupture the surface of the image and ooze out through the screen, finding and seeping through the leakiness of boundaries, demanding attention.
Banner image credit: Ambera Wellman, Mystax, 2017, digital print, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.