Colleagues is a series of photographic portraits created between 2013-2019 depicting young male visual artists. The work investigates the history of posing in painting, the aesthetics of the male body as well as the power relation or intimacy which can occur between the photographer and the one being photographed.
How does this frailty show in the portrait of the young male artist and how does the object being portrayed show his respect regarding the photographers professionalism by engaging himself as a model for the colleague?
In his text Colleagues – an exhibition companion Håkon Traaseth Lillegraven writes;
‘Rather than turn her back to this history, Wendel Skousen knowingly engages it by submitting familiar poses and compositions into play, harnessing an energy which could otherwise threaten to commandeer it. In the series of portraits (all named, not granting the depicted artists anonymity), we can recognize amongst others, the martyred figure of Saint Sebastian, an eroticised male figure popularised by painters from Titian to Rubens, Singer Sargent to Caravaggio. In another, the contours of Olympia — first presented to an offended public by French painter Édouard Manet in 1895. In her time, by simply returning the viewers’ gaze, Olympia forced her bourgeoise audience into an interrogation of the desire and voyeurism which artworks such as her facilitated for them in a ‘decent’ societal and cultural setting. Wendel Skousen doesn’t hit far off a similar mark in our time. In Wendel Skousen’s work, a contemporary ‘Olympian’ gaze challenges us to assess how we look at and construe a heterosexual female artist using her male colleagues as the subject matter of her art. How we regard a male artists’ consented depiction in the semi-nude, in their beds, bedrooms, and studios, stripped of the social signifiers which would otherwise imply their professional proficiency, social repute, or other perceived virtues.’
Viktoria Wendel Skousen (b. 1987)
Lives and works in Copenhagen and has a MFA from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien. Her practice investigates different kinds of power relations within the arts, that be political, intimate or the power of the gaze. She works in several different medias including photography, printmaking, text and performance.
Viktoria Wendel Skousen has previously exhibited in Remap Athens, KünstlerHaus München, Piscine at Aarhus Kunsthal and Artzone Roskilde Festival 2018. In 2013 she the founded the internet-based art magazine and archive for artistic writing, ‘Texted’.
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