Bodies of Eve
Sue Katz’s work for this exhibition deals primarily with the female nude, which has a long lineage in art history. Katz, no doubt, is well aware of the collected meaning associated with the female form and so her questioning of form through material, primarily collage, expands the avenues of discussion in this historical art tradition.
The ambiguity of Katz’s figures lie in the contradiction of the figures themselves and the way they are assembled. The figures, passive and welcoming are almost presented as exhibitionists, where the figures willingly comply to the artist’s and viewer’s gaze.
However, the contradiction and politicization of the work is presented not in their nakedness but in their construction through detritus. The conscious viewer, willingly or unwillingly, is forced to re-imagine conventional notions of the female body and made to deconstruct the figure as material – in fact, the flesh as constructed material.
Through this construction, this collage, Katz breaks down the meaning of ‘woman’ not just through the re-represented materiality of the female subject, but also through their peripheral, where dated instructions on “How to Juice an Orange” and phrases like “Nameless, Shameless Woman!” and “Hey Skinny…Yer Ribs Are Showing” casually orbit the surrounding voluminous nudes. The figures then are both sexualized and domesticated through their independent use of text in and around the body.
Curator of The Central Bank Art Gallery, Heino Schmid, adds, “The contradiction of the hardness of the material, the softness of the figures and the use of text, however deliberate or accidental, create a juxtaposition of imagery that remains an open question, and it is one of the surprising mysteries that make the work so challenging and exciting.”
Katz explains her inspiration for this exhibition, “For this collection of work, I decided to combine my love of the figure with my fascination of retro advertising. I have always been intrigued by the gadgetry of the 1950s-1960s, the medley of new and wonderful ways to make life easier and the ways in which women were portrayed.
During these eras, women were expected to keep a clean house, take care of the family, and create wonderful meals – all while looking stylish and happy in the process. From TV dinners to processed cheese, this grouping of work is a humorous and fun look at women in various forms.”