My concept explores distorting and disconnecting the representation of woman as ‘landscape’ in Art history, alongside the ‘male gaze.’ I aim to deconstruct the aesthetics and expositions of conforming traditional nudes that depict women as desirable objects. The creation of a contemporary disjunctive landscape that distorts the traditional image of the female nude and the ‘male gaze,’ represents woman as ‘landscape’ differently to those of the renaissance paintings. Through this I am aiming to disrupt and question the ‘male gaze’ rather than diminish it.
My decision to use the traditional nude figure of Giorgione Titan’s, Sleeping Venus, lies within the audience’s familiarity with the original painting. The familiarity allows the audience to observe a correlation between the two representations of the female body and how they differ. This decision was supported by post-modern feminist artist Sherrie Levine, whose practice involves the reproduction of traditional art works as she comments on the inadequacy of female artists within Art history, while male artists were idolized. This informed my concept of disrupting the ‘male gaze’ that was generated by the authority of white western males in the history of Art.
Levine’s practice also looks at the ability for an image to concurrently be recognizable yet unrecognizable and this idea has been translated in my piece through the production of a landscape which is simultaneously a nude. Although the collage is abstract, parts of the (female) body are legible, in order for the depiction to remain perceptible.
Another pivotal influence came from the theory of Gillian Rose and Catherine Nash in ‘Feminist Geography,’ where similarities are drawn between the ‘male gaze’ that is projected on to landscapes and female nudes. Like female nudes, landscapes are aesthetically pleasing for the ‘male gaze’ due to their feminine physiognomies. This theory informed my decision to combine the female body with landscape, presenting it as one, creating a contemporary version of woman as ‘landscape.’ The ‘male gaze’ is diverted through the collaged abstraction.
My decision to use wood as a canvas initiates the connection between the female body and nature. The specific sizing of the wood intends to portray a lengthy landscape with no specific focal point, encouraging the eye to travel across the surface. The grain of the wood imitates the fluid motion of nature and the colour emulates the tone of the nude body. The similar and complimenting characteristics of the wood and the nude body, assist in portraying them as one.
The choice of large scale intends to oppose the small scale of traditional nude painting. They allow the viewer to hold power over the petite and perfectly depicted nude, taking ownership over it. In order to take a feminist stance that rebels against the conformist traditional representations of women, the use of a life-size nude results in the ‘gaze’ of the viewer being confronted, challenging their authoritative power, and opposes the stereotype of the desirable small women.
My final outcome of a large scale, abstract nude-landscape collaged on a wooden board, blurs the definition of woman and landscape while allowing the female body to still be recognizable. Between the cracks of overlapping brown paper collage, which resembles earthly characteristics, the merging flesh of the feminine body is exposed and grows across the wood presenting itself as a natural form of either land or water. Taking feedback and critiques into account, I would further development my work by creating a larger scale piece to enhance the confrontational and overwhelming aspect of my concept.