Sabsay, the new art space in the heart of Copenhagen, is opening the exhibition of contemporary female portraits presented in diverse media: video, photography, painting, animated drawing, participative live installation, virtual reality and sculpture. The group show features artworks from a mix of established and emerging artists. The focus revolves around the subject of the present day female identity, exposed through the prism of new media art in juxtaposition to traditional techniques.
Exploring the nature of womankind, each artwork on show contributes to the puzzling image of a female creature. The title of the show brings about the sensation that we fail to see the depths of the female soul because we are always only seeing the mere representations instead. Kinder Album’s Effective Reflection, plays on this much relied theme of representation and self-representation, viewing or being viewed, allowing the freedom of spontaneity and unpredictability in the way that live participative installation unfolds.
Reflecting on how female identity has been maintained and generated at all times, the show brings out a sense of the fragility of identity. In Christoph Schmidberger’s painting Resist Me – That’s all I Need the sickly sweet beauty displays an image of utter vulnerability and surrender. Through the meticulously
executed surface of the painting, a photographic naturalism is achieved. While Schmidberger’s intimate scene exposes an image-focused, self-consumed modern day society, Tracey Emin’s striking animated video installation Those Who Suffer Love immerses the viewer into universally timeless raw emotional
climax of a woman being.
The Dusk of Teheran, the video by Tao Hui, recreates a dialogue originally performed by Hong Kong pop- singer and actress, Anita Mui, at her final concert a month before she succumbed to cancer. Like many of Tao’s works, this visually poetical piece confronts the viewer’s preconceived ideas about culture and identity and invites to reflect on one’s own cultural history, way of living, social identity and the difference in opportunities for women in one culture versus another. Simone Leigh’s female bust Untitled V (Anatomy of Architecture series) deals with the impact of culture as well in relation to the perception and stereotyping of the woman.
Culture – or rather the breakdown of culture – is thematized in Julia Beliaeva’s digital creation, The Last Human Mother and Baby. Based on Henri Rousseau’s jungle scene, The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope from 1905, the lion and his prey are morphed into a post-apocalyptic scenario where a mother and her child are left alone in a dystopian world. Through virtual reality media the viewer enters a primitive two-dimensional digital space with smooth plastic expression, addressing the primitive beginnings of digital technology and reflecting on origins of female-human nature. Through this technological parallel, Beliaeva brings the viewer face to face with the bare primordial state in an eternal circular progress of life’s rebirth, where the mother’s primal instinct for protecting her child is the only life sustaining instrument.
The nature of mother’s instinct is viewed at a radically diverse angle in the artwork of Mille Kalsmose. Having too early lost her own mother, the artist is able only in theory to understand both: the presence of the mother figure in one’s life and the example of being a mother. Having different women perform the role of her mother enables Kalsmose to explore the mother-daughter dynamics she has never known for herself thus artificially recreating the ever missing part of her own identity.
No narrative and comparison, only an elusive expression. Intimacy, darkness, pain, emptiness, emotions, tears, absurdness, selfless love, the lowest bottom and the highest sky. All these are portraits of every woman. And yet, as with icebergs, their full being and power remain hidden, inviting to be admired, but in no way predicted.