367MC – Critical Rationale

 

After previously studying the Golden Age of Illustration, how it affected photography and women’s image by the creation of ideals of feminine beauty I have built an extremely strong interest and passion for these early years and events. These early times when women fought for their rights and equality and the way society perceived and treated them not only intrigues me, but it perturbs me the most. Hence, I decided to continue my research in the 1920s Jazz Age to study the appearance of a new ideal, the flapper in contrast with the good wife.

 

Through my research I have identified the work of famous illustrators such as Nell Brinkley, a feminist artist who created The Brinkley Girl defining the flapper as a symbol of freedom for women and John Held Jr., an artist famous for his Life illustrated covers, who defined the flapper image in a satirical manner. At the same time famous fashion magazines such as Vogue started promoting the flapper look as the new fashion in contradiction with magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal, which continued to strongly promote the good wife identity. So, I have decided to conduct my research into studying not only these multiple identities, but also women’s struggles between them.

 

The initial approach towards the making of images has not been creative or thought of enough, hence the images were plain and were not making a statement. Also, I believe that being focused on the same idea for a good part of the module has not let make a step further and improve the work. However, as I choose to completely change the approach towards the images I consider it being the strongest decision.

Influenced by artists such as Orlan, Martha Rosler, Juno Calypso and Nina Parsons I have created a body of work, through the means of self-portraiture that reflects not only the absurdity of these identities, but women’s struggles, rejection and tiredness of them. Also, by using a bandage to mask my face I am making a statement: this what society does to women, masking the real self. I have also felt that by using self-portraiture it became more personal and it allowed me to make a statement including my own critical response towards the concept itself, which made the body of work stronger.

 

This body of work consists of 4 images that will be presented as one in the photo booth style. The reason for the photo booth type of image is that the 4 images together support each other and strengthen the work in a sense that it suggests the work being personal, while the images make a statement about the struggle of identities. In order to support this I have also chosen not to frame the work, as a photo booth picture is never framed and if I do it will loose its strength and its meaning. The image has been printed on a large scale, specifically A0 and mounted on MDF. The reason for the A0 size is that each image will be an A3 size, which I consider the perfect size as I don’t want it to invade the audience’s space.

Am I? explores the contradiction to pose questions about the ability of women to create their own identity.

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A hidden beauty – Artist Statement

ANDRA BUHAI

A HIDDEN BEAUTY

 

A hidden beauty  is a body of work that explores the presence of the Gibson Girl in our modern age.

In the late 19th century, Charles Dana Gibson created the ideal feminine beauty, the Gibson Girl. She was the most beautiful, upper class, fashionable, athletic, calm, independent, confident and desired personal fulfilment. For twenty years these qualities were constantly advertised to women in such way that they quickly began to embrace her as a role model. They created their entire look after her and even their personalities were of a Gibson Girl, but the concept slowly faded away at the beginning of 1920s.

This body of work explores how her qualities are still advertised in our everyday life, in fashion magazines, especially on the covers, even though the Gibson Girl as a concept disappeared.

The pictures that can be seen from the left side, are recreated images from the covers of Vogue magazine. The reason for choosing Vogue covers is that the covers are the first thing the audience sees and where these characteristics are being massively sold to women across the world. The illustrations on the right side are slightly manipulated as I removed the background to have only the Gibson Girl whose pose would subtly match the one of the model’s in the other image.

366 MC – Critical Rationale

A hidden beauty is a body of work that explores the presence of the ideal characteristics of women, set at the end of the 19th century, in our modern age. It’s purpose is to show the audience that the Gibson Girl, who was the ideal beauty at that time, can still be seen through imagery and advertising, being massively sold to the women across the world.

In order to send a clear message to the audience I choose to recreate the images of four magazine covers, specifically, Vogue and combine them with slightly manipulated illustrations of the Gibson Girl. Vogue is one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world and also the image on the cover is what attracts the audience to look at it in the first place. The illustrations of the Gibson Girl were chosen in such way that the figure of the Ideal Beauty would subtly overlay on top of the model’s pose, in the other image.

After experimenting with a few techniques, I choose to create the final body of work using the Constantine technique for folding the paper, having the two images together in one. After the print is folded, it enables the viewer to see the image of the recreated cover from the left side and the illustration of the Gibson Girl from the right side.

I have encountered many problems while using this technique, as it necessitates a specific type of paper. Using the wrong type can make the paper and the ink crack when it is folded. The glossy paper is one of the types that will crack, because it is printed using a laser printer. I have also tried using polypropylene paper, which didn’t crack, but it wouldn’t stay folded. The final type of paper that I have used is a very thin matte paper which was easy to fold and didn’t crack, but the problem with this paper is that the prints don’t look as professional as they would look with a glossy paper.

After moving forward with the technique and putting the four prints together, I had to let go of one of them, as all four didn’t work well together. The composition of the three final images makes them work together very well, especially because of their colours, whereas the forth one, in which the black and white are more predominant, looks like it’s part of a different body of work.

The final body of work would be exhibited in a gallery, on a rectangular pillar, in the middle of the room. On the side of the pillar, which the audience will see first, when they enter the room I would have the artist statement, following with the images on each side of the pillar.

There would be three lights attached to the ceiling, each one facing down towards the side of the image with the Gibson Girl, enabling the viewer to see her silhouette, vaguely, on the other image. The audience can walk either way to view the body of work.

To conclude, while creating this body of work I have encountered many problems, which I believe that made a significant change in improving my skills and I have also learned many different and new techniques, the importance of paper and different types of paper.

Exhibition

The images are 24 by 18cm and they’re going to be exhibited, three on the left side, three on the right side, just like in the image bellow with a distance of 3cm between them, on each side. All the images are in a white wooden frame with glass, because the glass is associated with the cover of the iris and the pupil.  The reason I choose to exhibit them in this order is because I want them to go like a story, it begins by showing “the window”, it goes further by trying to get inside, representing what we all trying to find out through science, whether we could find the soul one day through the eye, then back outside, confused, everything being blurry and in the end another look at the “entrance”; even though no one managed to ever prove it, make it a fact, we can still see it’s there, the eyes are the window to our soul.

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Final Images

The reason I took the first two images as separate images of the two eyes are mainly because I didn’t want to have the cliche image of only the eyes and because of the message I want to send to the audience. The first image, the image of the eye opened represents a whole view of the “window to our soul”, whereas the second one represents the “window” closed.

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The night has a thousand eyes,/ And the day but one; / Yet the light of the bright world dies/ With the dying sun.    – Francis William Bourdillon, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes.  

This is what the second image represents, in a metaphorical way – what happens when we choose turn off the light in our soul, everything is blurry for the ones that are trying to “get in”.

These two images show, how expressive and how much you can tell by looking into someone’s eye and how little you could tell without being able to do this, everything’s blurry, you don’t understand anything, it’s like a blank page.

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Inspiration – “Your Beautiful Eyes” – Suren Manvelyan

These images inspired me in term of technique, because of the angle from which the photographs were taken the pupil look like a black hole that goes inside. It gives the viewer the feeling that through the pupil there is a path that will take you inside the eye – into the soul.

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And the way you see the eye, like there is a glass protecting that path is one of the main reasons why I chose to frame the pictures and have glass protecting the images.

 

Mihaela Ivanova – Identity

I came across this artist’s project Identity and I found it really interesting because in the photographs that she took she has the subject holding a part of a portrait of a different person, the photograph being either with the mouth of a different person or the eyes, but in most of the pictures she choose to have the subjects holding the photograph with the eye.

 

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It is amazing how much of difference  and change it makes to the person that is holding in one of the pictures, a image with someone else’s eyes and in the other with someone else’s mouth. I personally believe that the eyes change the image completely, whereas the one with the mouth doesn’t make you look at what change does the picture with the mouth make, but it still makes you look at the subjects eyes.