The Physical Façade

The Physical Façade

With the rise of social media platforms and the proliferation of digitally enhanced images, the relationships between individuals and their bodies is becoming increasingly complex. In a contemporary society saturated with images, a culture of comparison develops between reality and fiction, generating an unattainable and potentially damaging outlook on physical ideals.

Women Look At Women at Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, explores this phenomenon through the lens of 13 female photographers, investigating notions of the reciprocal look and its impact on a sense of identity. By reclaiming the male gaze, the exhibition offers diverse, critical interpretations that are often supressed by traditional approaches. Featured artists include important feminist figures such as Eleanor Antin, Friedl Kubelka, Renate Bertlmann, Elisabette Catalano, Jo Spence, Francesca Woodman and Helen Chadwick.

Many of the highlighted works use disguise to challenge societal prototypes. For example, Kubelka’s (b. 1946) Pin Ups comprises intimately staged self-portraits taken during lone stays in Parisian motels. The photographs draw attention to their own construction; a character is fully orchestrated through clothing and surroundings. By multi-casting herself as a subject of discussion, object of desire and image maker, Kubelka disrupts notions of a fixed identity and draws attention to the fabricated nature of images. In a similar way, Bertlemann (b. 1943) transforms into a range of archetypes in front of the camera, questioning perceived notions of “femininity” through performative interrogation. Likewise, Antin’s (b. 1935) Men from The King of Solana Beach foregrounds a fictional eponymous male character, adopting features associated with masculinity, dissipating recognisable binaries.

From 15 February. Find out more here.

1. Elisabetta Catalano, Silvana Mangano, 1974. © Archivio Elisabetta Catalano. Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery