‘Monster/beauty deviates from the beauty ideal in which form, inflexibly ordered, is content; for monster/beauty shows off the more fully sensuous and intelligent content of soul-and-mind inseparable-from-body’.
- Joanna Frueh from ‘Monster/Beauty: Building the Body of Love’ (2001)
Private View: 17th September, 4.00-8.00 pm
Rafaela de Ascanio
Unit 1, The Gransden, 39-45 Gransden Avenue
London E8 3QA
Lychee One proudly presents Monster/Beauty: An Exploration of the Female/Femme Gaze, a group exhibition curated by Marcelle Joseph featuring the artwork, ephemera and archival photographs of nineteen female-identifying or queer femme artists who portray the feminine body in its sexed or sexual state, empowering the womxn artist as both subject and object as well as image and image-maker. The works of these artists largely depict the female or queer femme body in a radically narcissistic way as theorised by Amelia Jones or in a ‘monster/beauty’ fashion as theorised by Joanna Frueh, disrupting the gendered polarisations structuring conventional modes of art production and interpretation (i.e., female/object or model vs. male/subject or artist). These feminist ideologies support aesthetic/erotic self-creation, giving agency to people who wish to be erotic subjects and objects – that is, those who wish to enjoy themselves and be enjoyed. The works in this exhibition confront the male gaze by subverting it and exposing its insufficiency, privileging feminine genius and womxn viewers, ‘thereby [in the words of Amelia Jones] crippling the [male] gaze and forcing it to surrender’. To paralyse the ‘male gaze’, the theoretical term coined in 1975 by the film critic Laura Mulvey to critique the use of women’s bodies as objects of voyeuristic pleasure for male viewers, these artists celebrate female or queer sexuality and desire in their art, treating the gendered or queer body as a cultural product or social and discursive object or sign where meaning can be ascribed. The artists in this exhibition are what Frueh defines as ‘monster/beauties’, embedding ‘corporeal subjectivity and agency’ into their artistic portrayal of the body as inseparable from the mind and ‘manifest[ing] a highly articulated sensual presence’ as they wed Eros and Psyche in their creative expression as artists.