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Artwork of the Month - Aug 2006



Artist: Georgie Smith
Medium: Video installation
Status: Loaned by the artist
Item No.: -

The Female Image

In the past, secular images of women were largely created by male artists for the male audience or buyer. Even when the artist was female it was unusual to see any difference in the way women were portrayed. An exception to this can be seen in Artemisia Gentileschi's (1597 - 1651) strong and confident depiction of herself as the Allegory of Painting.

Today, many women artists use and examine images of the female form, and common female stereotypes, as a large part of their work. But it is the self portrait which has been the main vehicle for this new exploration by women artists. Self portraiture is used as a way of investigating not only themselves as artists and individuals, but also as a way of examining images of women in today's society and media.

Artists of the 20th and 21st century such as Frida Kahlo (1907 - 1954), Cindy Sherman (b. 1954) and YBA artist Jenny Saville (b. 1970) have reclaimed the female image with the help of self portraiture. It is now no longer mainly the subject of male voyeurism, but is used to challenge, question and examine the female image in art.

Dejavu Darling

Georgie Smith's work, 'Dejavu Darling', follows in the footsteps of artists such as Sherman. The strong element of self portraiture is an important strand that runs through Smith's work. However, Smith also talks about the female character in her work in the third person, which then creates a distance between herself and the subject. The work also examines artifice, voyeurism, appearance, gender, masquerade, looking, and being looked at. These elements can be seen in the work of Sherman and Nan Goldin, who have both been very influential on Smith's work.

Smith also examines personal space and describes the work as "creating a space to escape to, and at the same time a space unable to escape from". She points out that the "girl's trapped in a world reminiscent of the past", the past also acting as a "metaphor for being unable to escape oneself and one's image and appearance". The work develops into a claustrophobic drama, where self image, personal space, and the desire to escape both, saturate the work.

The claustrophobic nature of the work is intensified yet again by the processes by which the work is created. Smith states that it is essential that it is film rather than digital video and photography.

"I see the process as a form of alchemy, being able to capture time, presence, and people; the images never able to age, again trapped".