Etter (After) 2023
‘After’ is a feminist project about tracing the representation of the female body throughout art history, in which the female nude is a distinct genre. Female artists had neither access to art education nor the opportunity to paint nudes until the late 1800s. During the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s, artists began raising awareness about the lack of representation and the missing language for women's experiences. Many did this by using their own bodies as a canvas — in front of the camera and in performance. Today, this is considered a feminist practice, and with my project, I aim to honor this.
Throughout history, it has been a tradition for artists to copy old masters and refer to them in the title with the word 'After,' such as 'After Leonardo da Vinci.' This kind of copying allowed artists to hone their artistic skills, but were also a way to affirm the importance of the old masters.
What is missing for me is artwork that refers to the art that has been crucial to my artistic development, that which challenges societal norms for women, and contributes to a visual language. With this project, I want to hone my artistic skill and challenge these norms by doing something I have never done before — using my own body as a canvas. In addition to feminist theory and art history, I am also passionate about photography, and have photographed the images with a 4x5 analog large format camera, developing the color prints in the darkroom.
About the artists I refer to:
'Olympia' is the title of Édouard Manet's painting from 1863 depicting a naked woman lying on a bed, meeting the viewer's gaze. It caused a scandal when exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1865 because of its realism, showing a light-skinned prostitute with her dark-skinned maid. The work was called vulgar and immoral because this artwork didn’t meet society's demands and expectations of form and content. I choose to refer to the title, not the artist, because the work was crucial for the advent of realism in art.
Ana Mendieta (1948-1985) was a Cuban American performance artist and photographer, placing her own body in relation to nature through installation and photography. Mendieta died mysteriously when she fell from the balcony of her apartment in a skyscraper in New York.
Marthe Ramm Fortun (1978-) is a Norwegian performance artist who makes it look easy to undress in public spaces. In several of her works, she delivers monologues about the role of women and moves into public spaces without a thread on her body, seemingly unaffected.
One photograph is dedicated to myself pointing out that I exist as an artist.