Friday, 17 April 2015

Book Review: Emma L. E. Rees: The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History

Emma L. E. Rees
The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History

Opening with the perennial search for a suitable word for the female genitals, the author’s vivid and animated voice makes this book a must-read throughout. Informed yet funny, it looks at the history of the vagina through literature, film, TV, and visual and performance art.

Emma L. E. Rees
The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History
Bloomsbury Publishing

Display: Jessica Yatrofsky: I Heart Girl

Jessica Yatrofsky: I Heart Girl 

For where is any author in the world. Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye?
[Shakespeare, Loves Labour Lost, Act IV, scene 3]

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and while there is evidence that perceptions of beauty are evolutionarily determined, that humans might be attracted to mates that are likely to offer them enhanced chances of survival, the experience of beauty nevertheless remains subjective.

In her first monograph, I Heart Boy, which launched her career in 2010, photographer Jessica Yatrofsky laid bare what some have referred to as the ‘gay’ ideal of male beauty, stripped down to the essence, with hairless bodies and a youthful androgyny, reflected in her choice of the word ‘boy’ not ‘man’. In her latest counterpart, I Heart Girl, she turns to female beauty. Across 96 pages, she lays out photographs of naked – and near naked – young women, all of whom, in some way or other, are beautiful, all of whom are sexy and innocently alluring. None conforms to the classical definition of symmetry and aesthetic perfection, many almost boyish with their slender figures, but each allows her inner beauty to shine through. As George Pitts notes in the introduction, femininity is teased out of androgyny, with each subject’s self-awareness and quiet confidence – true characteristics of survival – capturing the essence of this ‘fairer’ sex.

Jessica Yatrofsky
I Heart Girl 
Published by powerHouse Books
May 2015
Portraits / Fine Art Photography / Feminism

Hardcover, 8.5 x 10.5 inches, 96 pages

ISBN: 978-1-57687-739-5
$30.00 US/CAN

To see this photo spread in full, please buy the May 2015 print issue of DIVA magazine

Interview with Sarah Jane Moon

Interview: Sarah Jane Moon 
Inside Portraits
Mall Galleries Learning Centre, London
16 – 19 April 2015

For Sarah Jane Moon, painting is “fundamentally the relationship between an artist’s senses and the subject’s presence.” Having trained in portrait painting at Heatherley School of Fine Art (2009-2011), Moon went on to receive commendations from both the Royal British Society of Sculptors and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, from whom she was awarded the 2013 Bulldog Bursary.

Moon works primarily with oil on canvas and builds up layers, often painting objects in and out of the composition. She is keen to show her friends’ and sitters’ characters through both a visual likeness but also by the careful placement of objects that define them, such as books and postcards. Having spent some time in Japan, her work has a strong graphic element to it and she outlines her figures in black and flattens perspective, usually working from a photograph.

Her most recent work is her largest yet and depicts a dinner party with many of her friends crowded around the table, chatting and convivial. Above them hangs a stark black and white portrait of the lesbian author, Radclyffe Hall.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Interview with Penny Slinger

Interview: Penny Slinger
History is Now: 7 Artists Take on Britain
Hayward Gallery 
10 February – 26 April 2015    

Penny Slinger (b1947, London) was a lively and prominent figure on the 70s London arts scene. She studied at Chelsea School of Art, where she wrote her thesis on Max Ernst, and, after graduating in 1969, was offered a place at the Royal College of Art. That summer, however, she met and fell in love with a young film-maker called Peter Whitehead. They decided to go off and make work together, including the 1969 film Lilford Hall, currently on show at the Hayward Gallery (History is Now, 10 February – 26 April 2015). After the breakdown of their relationship and a dark period of self-examination, questioning both who she was and where she fitted in to the contemporary art world, Slinger discovered tantric art. Seeking a spiritual guide, she met Nik Douglas, and, with him, moved first to New York and then, in 1979, to the Caribbean.

She returned to the US in 1994, but Slinger’s legacy in the UK was all but lost until 2009, when she reappeared in an exhibition, Angels of Anarchy, at the Manchester Art Gallery. Since then, she has had several exhibitions around the country and is firmly re-establishing her place in British art history.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Video of Making It: Sculpture in Britain 1977-1986 at Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Making It: Sculpture in Britain 1977-1986
A Touring Exhibition from the Arts Council Collection
Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
1 April – 21 June 2015

In the purpose-built Longside Gallery at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Arts Council Collection has brought together the work of 40 artists from between 1977-1986, a period that saw the emergence of a new young generation of British sculptors. 

Following on from exhibitions of the work of Garth Evans (2013, curated by Richard Deacon) and Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-79 (2014), which between them covered the period from 1959-1982, where sculptural practice was very much ephemeral, conceptual, or based on performance, this current exhibition looks at the early 80s, a time when sculptural practice in the UK went back into the workshops to experiment with a completely new approach of assembling.

With half the exhibits drawn from the Arts Council Collection’s own rich holdings, and with women artists featuring prominently, this exhibition celebrates the treasury of British sculpture from the years leading up to the death of Henry Moore (himself not included, but with a parallel exhibition of his work, Back to a Land, on show in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Underground Gallery and open air).

A number of artists rose to prominence during this period, but there has been a lack of publications and survey exhibitions – until now. The exhibition is complemented by an excellent publication featuring insightful essays by 12 critics, writers, gallerists and curators.

Studio International spoke to co-curator, Jon Wood, from the Henry Moore Institute, and Jill Constantine, head of the Arts Council Collection, about how the exhibition came about and what its main themes are.