Monday, October 8, 2007

Landmark Arts- Y Que- curated by Harmony Hammond

Y QUÉ? :: Shanti Matulewski
Ever since her father, a photographer, gave her her first camera at age 14, Shanti Matulewski has liked to photograph people, especially women. Vanityfires, an early body of work from around 2002, was a celebration of female energy. Conscious of being a woman photographing women, she wanted to find a way to emphasize woman as a sensuous feminine subject free from the oppressive male gaze. A performance artist as well as photographer, Matulewski then turned the camera on herself in a series of Self-portraits, consciously performing as both subject and object, making them one in the same.
Matulewski says that she moved from Dallas to Austin in 1994 to be part of a community of artists and performers. Like Nan Goldin, she takes photographs of people from these communities of which she is a member. For The Red Slip Project, a series of performative photographs begun in 2005 and continuing to the present, Matulewski loaned the same red slip, a sexually saturated article of clothing, socially gendered as feminine, to both men and women and asked them to relate to it, to “inhabit” the symbol of the slip while she photographed.
This resulted in a range of masculine and feminine expressions (not necessarily correspondingly attached to male/female biological bodies) and sexual ambiguity. As a prop and costume, the red slip allowed project participants to step outside their images of themselves and playfully perform for the camera and photographer or more intimately engage with the erotics of the object.
Ultimately the snap-shot sized photographs, and she takes a lot of them, are about a permissiveness to play with the slip and with gender. While of individual interest, they become formally and conceptually more interesting when enlarged and paired or combined in diptychs, triptychs, groupings or books. Together they constitute a group portrait of a gender-fluid and sexually experimental community. —HH
The Red Slip Project (diptych) [2005-2007]digital photographs, 18 x 36 x 2 inches.
The Red Slip Project (triptych) [2005-2007]digital photographs, 18 x 36 x 2 inches.
Courtesy of the artist.

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