framed femininity

2:00 / HD video / 2017

            The two-minute piece aims to explore feminism through history, drawing comparisons to four acclaimed 20th century painters. Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes, a movement inaugurated by females, thus giving themselves power. The piece consists of visual art in the form of video and contemporary dance that includes artwork by different painters alternately displayed as a backdrop for a silhouette of expressive human movement. Some initial inspiration structurally can be partially accredited to an exhibition running at London’s Photographer’s Gallery called ‘Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970: Works from the Verbund Collection’. Robert Capps was once famously quoted “From simple resources that we have around, we can create a piece of art” (2009). This quote goes some way to depicting the style of artwork produced for this piece using a projector to project old paintings. In general, this gives a technical juxtaposition between the old and classy with the technological, contemporary and modern.

            The interest in performing in one’s own artwork stems from the desire to scrutinise the emotions drawn from watching oneself interact within an artwork, assuming full control of the content. The movements aim to help accentuate the works of the painters and capsulate them into five distinct chapters.

            The title ‘Framed Femininity’ can be considered an experiment addressing colloquial meanings of each word independently. Whilst the video runs as a singular piece, there are five chapters or ‘frames’ each one telling their own story. A time frame is a period in which an event occurs, in this case relating to feminist revolution and events through history. Frame is also a term for a photograph within a film, and this is why in different sequences of the video there are frames coming up on top of the moving image. Throughout the video edits are evident, changing the size and direction of the original images displayed on the backdrop. Finally, the act of ‘framing’ is “to be set up, where the blame is directed at a ‘scape-goat’” (Urban Dictionary, 2005). The latter definition is arguably relatable to women rights pre-suffragette.

            The sound can be loosely dissected into chapters containing unique but inherently linked themes, a sonic emphasis of that in the video. From the first scene, ominous sound fills the room evoking a sense of confinement, as subsequent scenes unfold the sound alters in pitch and frequency instilling a sense of change. Recordings of empty rooms are amplified to demonstrate the lack of content in the way women were portrayed in the media. Empty sounds transcend into glitch music evoking a sense of change, one that after inauguration rapidly dominates the pace of women’s lives. Following the aforementioned revelations, a progressive sweep of mid and high frequencies convert the piece into a feminine ballad, women taking control. As the video draws to an end, panning is used to give the effect of sounds veering off into their own directions subsiding into a serene and hopeful end.

            The fact that three of the four painters in the piece are male (Hooper, Klimt and Picasso) highlights the ways in which the female image has been captured by male artists in all kind of mass media communication, including art, throughout history. On the other hand, Kahlo, the only female artist’s work present, portrayed the beauty of femininity by painting herself in an altruistic and ‘true to life’ form. She can be accredited as a major inspiration for this project due to her immense influence on women whilst she was alive and even posthumously.

            In conclusion, this project aims to demonstrate the beneficial effects of feminism during the twentieth century in an innovative way by drawing from past and contemporary art. This highlights the change and power the movement has had on the lives of many, shaping the world we occupy today.

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