17 September - 4 October, 2014
17 September - 4 October, 2014
Paintings, collages, drawings and sculptures by Ness Alexandra
My art practice creates statements about the contradictions and frustrations of being female within the privileged confines of suburban Melbourne. I use domestic objects and glamour magazines to, craft, question and distil moments that describe my response to the gendered complexity of this world.
SHE IS…Built on lies
SHE IS…Only skin deep
The name of each piece of work creates a declarative sentence that anchors my perspective on female experience into a controlled visual discussion.
My work reflects my questioning of expectations, freedom and choices or lack of choice that myself; my female friends and colleagues function within. At face value, my artwork comments on the pressure mass media and the beauty industry places on women today. But deeper in these works is an implicit acknowledgment of the choices and chains of our immune suburban existence and how these define our feminity.
As my two primary aged daughters develop, I feel a re-ignition in myself of the 1970's feminist promises I was brought up with. I’m astonished, angered and frustrated with society (and some women’s) attitudes towards women in general. I feel a level of responsibility to my girls and their friends to remind them to question advertising campaigns that tell them what pretty, thin, hairless beings they deserve to become – because “they're worth it.”
When starting work on this exhibition, fashion magazines became the catalyst for my practice. I was a teenager who pawed over every page and found pleasure, solace, confusion, desire and deflation in the illusions. Returning, skeptical, to a stack of magazines after many years, the contradictions were still enticingly there, somewhat old-fashioned in a digital world.
Pictorial articles regarding the mistreatment of women in third world countries were slotted alongside the latest Hollywood diet; botched plastic surgery stories and how to be a better lover. But the real meat was still in the ads that pay for the editorial. The beauty in their lush colour and the darkness of their lies prompted my first collages: Turning her back on beauty, Only skin deep and Built on lies. I managed to gather enough advertising material for three collages from one magazine.
“Advertising is legalized lying.” ― H.G. Wells
In post-post-modern suburban Melbourne it feels almost twee to be commenting on the artifice and futility of hair removal products next to the hair care ones in my local Priceline. I have the awareness of how these products are marketed to me and the freedom of choice on if and when to use them. I know that advertising is about money and little else, yet it is a disturbing by-product of that capitalism that exploits and distorts my expectations, destroys my self-esteem and erodes my wallet when I fall for its charms.
In SHE IS… I have experimented with different mediums, incorporated found objects as well as utilized recycling techniques in an effort to develop an environmentally friendly arts practice. The mediums include acrylic paint, collage, wax, plaster and ink. This diversity allows me to remain engaged with my theme and not be restricted by any particular medium. One medium often leads into another. Discarded objects have significance for me; they are imbued with memory and often create beautiful textures or shapes. Household objects that are often considered rubbish are often my starting point or inspiration when developing new works. I like to observe my immediate surroundings and describe the feeling (often loneliness or discontent) in studies of domestic items. These still lifes have been included in this exhibition as an additional insight into the female world.
As I have worked on these pieces over the course of the year, I have willed myself a stronger more resilient attitude to the complexity of my response to female advertising and my femininity. Questioning and creating conversations that challenge media stereotypes and my response to them.