Exhibition 3 | PLAY OF THE BODY IN SPACE
Yumna Al-Arashi, Hicham Benohoud, Jenna Westra
Opening: 1 October 2020, 6 – 9 pm
On view: 2 – 31 October 2020
Jenna Westra: Lemon Reach, 2019 | STUDIO 4 BERLIN
PLAY OF THE BODY IN SPACE
YUMNA AL-ARASHI, HICHAM BENOHOUD, JENNA WESTRA
For its third exhibition, STUDIO 4 BERLIN brings together works of three artists from three continents: Yumna Al-Arashi, Hicham Benohoud and Jenna Westra. Different generations, aesthetics and cultures enter into an inspiring dialogue. Their common focus lies on the human body in dialogue with space, depicting parallel planes of reality. The images of the three artists evoke questions of self-perception, the gaze of the other and the way this gaze objectifies us. They investigate human relations, power and submission, and the possibilities of identity. Role play and transgressions of the physical are revealed, bodies are reduced to objects; sometimes they even become graphic arrangements. The chosen series underscore, each in their specific ways, the close connection between performance and staged photography.
By taking matters into her own hand, being both photographer as well as the woman being photographed, Yumna Al-Arashi is reclaiming her own gaze. The artist challenges the ideas of eroticism as something far more than sexual – and on the contrary, as something inherent to womanhood. Female eroticism has been vilified in order to revoke women of their power as capitalism took over our modes of being. Sensuality and beauty in the female body are often linked to sexuality. This leads to women being objectified, detached from the person seen in the photograph. Al-Arashi’s works reflect a kaleidoscope of different expressions of the female: individual bodies juxtaposed with colourful props, women in wide landscapes, cloaked in fabrics that partly veil their figures, and intense black-and-white images of female groups in acrobatic interaction.
For The Hole Hicham Benohoud persuaded the inhabitants of houses in the medina of Marrakesh to allow him to knock holes in their walls and floors. In his works, people and their body parts emerge from these temporary openings. In the digital era, where everything has become visually possible, where the borders between reality and the imaginary are increasingly porous, and where truth and falsehood have become entangled, Benohoud resists the temptation to retouch and re-arrange his photos. He wants his pictures to display events as they really happened. Benohoud’s photographs are both staged and documentary. They explain how the surreal can be embedded in everyday life and how little enactments of the absurd can tear holes into the fabric of ‘normality’ that usually keeps people’s creative ambitions under wrap. As it is typical for Benohoud’s work, any social criticism or sense of subversion is expressed with irony and feigned lightness.
Jenna Westra's photographs oscillate between careful construction and results of chance. She invites – mostly female – models to perform within the setting of a photograph. This performative aspect of her images creates a lightness, as the photographs don't impose themselves as definitive, but as negotiable views of a certain moment. This notion is reinforced when Westra presents her work in series, with images that are versions of a motif, differently cropped or chronologically arranged. The gaze transitions back and forth between what we know is front, back, or a specific part of the body, trying to define what belongs where. We know it is a human body part we are looking at. It might even be a female nude but with these works our attention might be shifted toward the composition and the mood of the image more than the nudity itself.
Eva Morawietz, Katharina Maria Raab, Anahita Sadighi, Anne Schwarz
STUDIO 4 BERLIN
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