Featuring the work of Claudia Huenchuleo, Derek Cracco, Gillian O’Shea, Marie-Pier Frigon, Nina Wright, Victor Barbieri, Walter Aprile and Winnie van der Rijn
Inspired by the coyly adventurous calendar girl hanging on repair shop walls, we have brought together artists who explore representations and notions of femininity, feminism and gendered identity. Notions of whom or what is “ideal” are shifting along with standards of masculinity and the resultant imagery.
In an effort to embody the current debate in this charged landscape OFFspace presents “Pin Up!” with work alluding to, defying and epitomizing the new/post/disrupted ideal. Taking on fascination with weaponized sexuality, cheeky twists on the traditional supine, passive nude and the “candid” snapshot artists bring an array of views and perspectives to challenge and celebrate the idealized (fe)male form.
Gillian O’Shea re-examines the time-honored trope of the watercolor nude, her paintings are lush but forego the giddy playfulness of bygone eras. Her models defy “pert” standards and with their direct gaze seem both inviting and challenging. Making a different use of the gaze are the photographs of Marie-Pier Frigon. Her images appear simultaneously intimate and highly composed, the subjects focused on their own inner narrative. The “every day” women in these photographs appear to maintain a tenuous balance that is seconds away from being lost. There is however, no balance to the obsessive reiterations of Suggestions by Winnie Van der Rijn, meticulous hand stitching pays homage to women’s craftwork as well as the “work” of crafting perfection. Frayed edges and loose threads seem to echo the unraveling inner monologue (not good enough, not good enough) woven into this textile work.
Deconstructed and rebuilt, with no loose edges, the collages from Claudia Huenchuleo are, however, equally obsessive and disturbing. The female form has been re-purposed to function in surreal, seemingly hostile landscapes. The work questions whether the subjects are victims of, or heroines on, these strange streets. Nina Wright takes us from strange worlds to city streets with her bold graphic imagery. The work lures us/the viewer in with bright girly pinks that upon closer inspection resolve into quotidian detritus. Wright’s images map the world of the playful and gritty urban girl.
Surrounding the viewer with a plethora of discreet, titillating images Derek Cracco updates the aesthetic of aspirational posters wallpapering a lonley teenager’s room. From Here to There embraces pop art, appropriating advertisements, movie stills and porn to simultaneously celebrate and lampoon our cultures long-standing obsession with physical perfection. In what could be seen as an oblique reference to the work of Frederick Taylor, Walter Aprile’s Gesti literally embodies classical gestures in an abandoned fiat factory. The male nude, the perfect man is here transformed from heroic marble to “dad bodied” factory worker. Aprile’s hero attempts a synchronized reclaimtion of traditional notions of manhood and relegation to a semi-mythic Golden Age.
Victor Barbieri explores loaded territory, in more ways than one with his image playing on America’s dual obsession with guns and sex. Is it fear of or homage to the power of the essential female—is it an invitation or a warning? Barbieri’s Eve is a stare spread wide open, confronting and confounding the viewer with stillness, balanced at the cusp of an uncanny consummation.
Woven throughout the exhibition is the idea of perfection, what it has meant and could mean; whether striving for its attainment or rebelling against outside pressure to conform. As with all things, there are a multiplicity of interpretations, and we strive to encourage the viewer to observe and engage with diverse experiences, ideas and practices. The traditional pin up is alive and well, on Instagram, in magazines and on locker room walls, but she has siblings now, cohorts diverse, celebratory and subversive to round out her image of perfection.