Debates about feminism have been thrust back into the spotlight recently and with this in mind, FELTspace’s all-female end of year exhibition, Subjectify Me, is topical.
Debates about feminism have been thrust back into the spotlight recently with our female politicians, namely Julie Bishop and Tanya Plibersek, speaking out about whether or not they consider themselves feminists. With this in mind, FELTspace’s all-female end of year exhibition, Subjectify Me, is topical. “I’m not saying it’s a feminist show,” Curator Ray Harris says, “but it’s coming from an angle of artists that perform in their own work and subject themselves to things. Instead of being objectified, they are subjectifying themselves.” In establishing the curatorial premise for the exhibition, Harris says the “exhibition is not looking at gender specifically, but more the notion of performativity of the self, that our self is a constructed performance”. Harris, like the artists in the exhibition, performs in her own video works and believes this creates a more personal and more direct experience. She explains, “I am making myself experience it as well, it’s more direct. If I got someone else to do it, it’s really removed. So for the person watching the video, if the artist is performing, they are living and experiencing it, and connecting it to the audience.” By the artist becoming the subject, they are, in a sense, objectifying themselves and exploring notions of feminism and role-playing. Harris says “they are using their own body as a tool for whatever message they are trying to make”. In some instances this message is delivered in a humorous way and in others a more serious tone. Works like One Hour Laugh by The Brown Council, a collective of four women, sees them laugh for an hour wearing dunce hats. Kate Mitchell uses slapstick humour in her work I Am Not a Joke where she cuts a hole in the floor that she is standing on and then when she gets to the end she falls through, like a cartoon. These works show that feminists actually have a sense of humour. Two of the video works use milk as a metaphor. In Faye Mullen’s work, On Hearing, the artist is in a bath of milk holding herself under as long as she can, coming up for air before submerging herself again. In another work, Milking by Hannah Raisin, she stands in front of a theatre dressed in a see-through ;raincoat and pink undies and pours milk over herself and you hear the reaction of people saying, ‘eeww, gross’. The exhibition also features works by Madison Bycroft and Kawita Vatanajyankur. “I hope the audience has some sort of reaction to the work, that they feel some kind of connection to what the artist is doing,” says Harris. “Or even if they don’t, it makes them think about why they are doing activities like laughing for an hour. It’s an odd thing to do but it’s one of the odd things we do all the time.” FELTspace Subjectify Me Wednesday, December 3 to Friday, December 19 feltspace.org