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Installation view with the work (from left to right) of Maria Elena Gonzalez, Kathe Burkhart, Sarah Vanderlip, Laure Leber

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The artists included in the exhibition entitled The Gaze are interested in redefining the way women look at themselves and each other. "The gaze" has been defined as male property - a tool to transform the power of female sexuality into a malleable reflection of male desire. How men look at women has been examined extensively, while the way that women perceive themselves as well as other women has been a neglected subject.

The exhibition attempts to give an historical context to these contemporary female artists by examining their work in relation to the history of feminist theory. Wall text containing quotes from such critical theorists as Laura Mulvey and Mary Ann Doane gives a context to the work that is often ignored but always present.


Janet Bigg's photographs and videos of young girls learning to ride horseback and tread water imply sexuality through camera placement in relation to the subject, yet the activities in which they participate are typical of children their age. As they learn to use their bodies to negotiate physical space, they simultaneously learn that they are "to be watched."

Kathe Burkhart's painting Slit subverts male language and mass media representation of the female while commenting on female discomfort with the body. The image of Elizabeth Taylor appears as both victim and martyr as she recovers from a plastic surgery operation.

Nicole Eisenman's untitled collage of cover girls covered in the artist's lipstick prints subverts the male gaze and notions of the fetishized female by exposing lesbian desire and emphasizing the unattainability of cultural notions of beauty.


Maria Elena Gonzalez's sculpture Untitled (Hamper) uses a domestic object as a means to question notions of identity. The reflection in the mirror placed on the top of the piece is disrupted by a phallic object that is both attractive and repulsive. This Lacanian reconstruction of the everyday object forces the viewer's reflection both literally and metaphorically.

Laure Leber's sexually charged portraits subvert pornographic imagery by approaching photography in a way that is stylized yet journalistic. The casual and realistic details of the settings for these portraits combined with an exacting lighting and composition causes her work to drift somewhere between the real and the staged.

Jocelyn Taylor's Jocelyn in Chair, Eyeballs in Bowl literalizes the internalization of the gaze in this two-channel video work as the artist is depicted from behind, seated, reaching from one monitor to another, appearing to take eyeballs from a bowl, one by one, and inserting them into her vagina.


JANET BIGGS, Amanda On Top, Twins Below, 1997, C-print, laser disk, monitor


Nicole Eisenman, Untitled (kisses), 1996, lipstick and gouache on magazine page


Sarah Vanderlip's video stills of herself dressed in blow-up doll costume confront viewers with their fears of sexuality as this animated sex toy resembles a combination life-size children's doll and masturbation device.

Kara Walker's disturbing silhouettes ask the viewer to examine the historic representation of the black female as "exotic seductress." These images express despair and conquest as women are both desired and despised by their "masters."

Amanda Williamson combines suggestive yet not explicit female nude photos with grease pencil tracings from pornographic magazines. This strange hybrid questions notions of the erotic as well as differences in the nature of the female and the male gaze.


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