by: Dooaa Nadeem
While the course of my research, I was very intrigued by the ‘Self (Miss) Representation’ case study of Amalia Ulman Excellences and Perfections, through which I explored ideas on ones perception of themselves and wanted to work on the redefinition of self-identity through the internet. Being initially a fine art student interested in portraiture I wanted to experiment with delivering strong inside emotions through the faces of women.
This idea was inspired by May Waver and Rafia Santana who are young digital artists, trying to explore sex, gender, ethnicity, identity and relationships in a patriarchal world with a range of digital media. Particularly works from the ‘Body Anxiety’ series, which was an online exhibition of 21 female artists, curated by Jennifer Chan and Leah Schrager demonstrating the diversity of views on the female body, self-representation and the image of women in the art world and media using their own bodies in their work. Rafia Santana through “Body Anxiety” experimented with the Internet as a canvas and also used the perceptibility and accessibility of online platforms to acknowledge the female voice. Through the shareability of the Internet, she tried to empower herself by self-representation in her work. Suffering from depression and anxiety being a short, young black woman, she expressed her blackness, feminity and mental health using her art. While May waver, also been described as the ’digi-feminist Artist’ believed that, though both contemporary art and the Internet have been there for quite a long time, ‘internet art’ is a fairly new occurrence and despite the world wide web being a platform accessible to everyone, where anyone can freely express themselves, digital art is more of a male-dominated realm. She felt women have been struggling to make place for themselves in this medium, with artists such as Petra Cortright and Bunny Rogers, and hence worked through the Internet as a digital artist trying to project her views in a new wave of feminist art online. Some of the works of RAFiA Santana and May Waver from the Body Anxiety Series are shown below;
‘Perception’ is a series of digitally manipulated Gifs representing the inner voice, insecurities and anxiety of women. I chose to make Gifs for this net art project as they can deliver strong messages through the Internet in a very efficient and effective way. I took photographs and digitally manipulated them forming them into four different Gifs each highlighting a different idea.
'Perception' Gif series;
It is aiming to explore the feelings and emotions of women often enshrouded inside them about their identity and appearance, using faces. I have tried to go against the stereotypical image of women in the media and the art world, which has been a central object of Western art shaping gender politics and showing the woman as object. I feel it is rarely that women’s representations of themselves have been given air to breathe, which is why I wanted to show the strong, independent and liberated woman who is much more than her body and appearance. ‘Perception’ shows the mental health and emotions of women trying to be themselves reclaiming their identity in the patriarchal art world. I want my work to have a visually engaging quality to it, which despite being very clear in projecting its idea would also keep a little mystery to itself to keep the viewer thinking.