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A (Mis)Perceived Physique: Bodyscapes by Three Women Artists

September 3 – October 16, 2016 │ Target Gallery │Torpedo Factory Art Center│ Alexandria, V.A.


Allana Clarke Lauren Kalman │ Carolina Mayorga


A (Mis)Perceived Physique: Bodyscapes by Three Women Artists examines the use of the female body in art past and present, to explore issues of equity, power, politics, and memory in.


In an exhibition of photography and video and performance three women artists explore issues of equity, constructions of power and dominance, politics, and memory through creative investigation of the use of the female body in art history and today. Implementing the body in differing ways, each artist contributes to a narrative about body imagery past and present, body consciousness in the digital age, and body politics through constructs of power both self- and outsider-driven.

Allana Clarke’s eerie photography series sees the image of a black female body disappearing into the ocean. Clarke’s contemplative photographs assert her own agency in the throng of art history and body politics. Her black bodies acknowledge a failed social system, but also speak to an art history that has used her body for the inclination of the male gaze, male-dominated practicum, and male-lead audience. Her bodies challenge the visitor to think and look beyond the art gallery itself, and into current events to consider the discourse around body imagery and rights for black women.

Lauren Kalman explores the roles of power, pleasure and beauty in gender equity. She highlights the uncomfortable connections in visual culture of body image, media, class and style in relation to dominance, corruption, and identity. Her work suggests an unbalanced relationship between adornment and the female body. She explores a historical and modern-day conflict of ornamentation and identity, provoking the viewer to consider our societal obsession with each.

Furthering the idea of “obsessive imagery” are Carolina Mayorga’s photographs evoking the historical image of the Madonna. Mayorga has referenced the Madonna as a historical expectation of the moralistic behavior and restrictive status of women, and as an obsession of the right wing male, and now returns to the subject to explore issues of consumerism, gentrification, and class. Using her own image as the subject of the Madonna she encourages the viewer to interact directly.

History surrounds the viewer as the past is made present and the present reflects the woes of the past. How far have body politics come in art and beyond since the height of the odalisque? What is the new role of the female body in art? These three women artists, though radical in their presentation and theory, do not offer concrete answers to these challenging questions, but enlist the past to inflame the zeitgeist towards inclusive and critical exploration.


Press Release

Torpedo Factory’s latest exhibit explores body politics, equity and power