The exhibition 'Dark Waters' dealt with the issues of the 'monstrous feminine' seen specifically through the eyes of the female video artist. Curated by Jenny Keane, the exhibition presented twelve international contemporary female artists working in video who explore in their work issues of female sexuality, femininity, monstrosity and horror. While the artworks presented dealt with diverse topics (ranging from adolescence, melancholia, war, body limits, sexuality, the uncanny, film theory, television, the Gothic, trauma, national identity, and horror), each artist deals with 'monstrous' feminine corporeality in various junctures of presence and absence, attraction and repulsion.
The word monster was, and is still, being used as something that deviates from the norm and contains an uncanny otherness that cannot be assimilated; yet its etymology stems from 'monstrare', to demonstrate or show, thus the word itself is about looking. As contemporary culture has developed, horror films in particular lasciviously localize the most amount of visual monstrousness onto and/or from their female protagonists, and have reappropriated the same structure of feminine = monstrous in art history; through familiarity and desire, alongside a paradoxical fear of the other, the feminine becomes the site (and sight) of extreme and repressed uncanniness. Dealing with this, 'Dark Waters' was an unusual exhibition in the artworld as it focused on such a specific yet increasingly common form of representation by women - femininity as subversively monstrous.
In Dark Waters, I pushed the concept of the installation to its limits, by creating the entire exhibition as a form of expanded installation. Through imbricating the voices of the corporeal videos within the space, endeavored to create an original form of curatorial practice. To work with the other artists’ pieces to create something new – a site of space and time that is mediated through sound, it becomes both incorporeal and bodily, permanent and transient, separate and connected, and subsequently opens up a rhythmic and liminal labyrinth.
The artists included: Sue de Beer [USA]; Cecily Brennan [Ireland]; Gabriela Fridriksdottir [Iceland]; Anna Jermolaewa [Russia]; Jenny Keane [Ireland]; Sigalit Landau [Israel]; Irene Loughlin [Canada]; Breda Lynch [Ireland]; Chloe Piene [USA]; Mika Rottenberg [Argentina]; Louise Shine [Ireland]; Catherine Street [Scotland].
The exhibition opened Thursday 3rd March, and ran from Friday 4th- 12th March at 'The
Station', 21 Queen Street, Belfast, BT1 6EA. The Belfast Feminist Network, in association with FemFest, also attended for a special screening on the 6th March as part of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. The exhibition won the award for Best Exhibition at the University of Ulster Research Graduate School Conference and came fifth out of 557 proposals in the Unsolicited Proposal Program 2011 organized by the New York Centre for Contemporary Art.
To view images of the exhibition, please click on the link below: