Sometimes I Disappear
- Arabella Bradley
- 3 April 2019
The female artists gazing back
Sometimes I Disappear sees four female artists using self-portraiture to challenge and confront the viewer's gaze. Cindy Sherman is often dubbed as the master of this technique, and homage is paid to her in the show's title: a comment she made about the anonymity she feels in her work when looking at the images herself. Spotlighted against a yellow background which appears to emit a faux-golden glow like a medieval altarpiece, the notions of religiosity she challenges in her work Madonna (1975) – where she appears as a glamorous incarnation of the Madonna are heightened.
What's most striking about the exhibition is the way it's displayed. On first impressions, the (beautiful) space looks relatively empty, but it soon becomes clear that each of the four walls is dedicated to a different artist. Franceca Woodman's work from the mid-to-late 1970s, and Oana Stanciu's 2013-2016 series EU! (ME!) are displayed on opposite walls, which, when viewed in tandem, seems to be a physical way of reflecting the similarities between the two artists in their use of the domestic space, props, objects and the body.
Zanele Muholi's series Hail the Dark Lioness explores identity politics and race, and is the most captivating of the four, due to the intense and direct gaze she sustains in the works. The choice to work in black and white enables Muholi to visually confront and challenge ideas about race and the representation of black bodies. She uses props and materials such as sunglasses, rope, and fabric in the series to highlight how the black body is treated as a material too, one 'that is frequently scrutinised, violated and undermined' (Muholi in The Guardian, 14 July 2017).
Sometimes I Disappear is a powerful exploration of the ways women are seen, and how they see themselves, by four incredible female artists who use their bodies as both the subject and object of their work.
Ingleby Gallery, until Sat 13 Apr.