WOMAN @ Hamilton House

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Avital Carno gives her thoughts on WOMAN: 'a social and artistic project, where different artists discuss and share ideas about violence towards women in society nowadays, and show them through their art.’

In part, WOMAN was exactly what I was expecting. The exhibition is an evocative and hard-hitting catalogue of the ways in which our society hurts and suppresses women. The artists explore different mediums to portray the brutality of physical and, implicitly or explicitly sexual, violence.

"mixed in with expressions of confinement and violation were images of sisterhood, motherhood and hope"

Works range from the simplicity of Grise Malayerba’s photograph of Soul on the Floor, which shows a naked woman curled up on herself, hiding her face, to the abstract grief of Maria Linares Freire’s painting entitled A Sea of Golden Tears.

Especially striking was Aranzazu Perez’s installation, News Heels: a pair of high heels, papered with newspaper articles about domestic violence, are mounted on a pedestal and spattered with blood. However, what resonated with me most were the works which portrayed the less quantifiable, yet arguably equally damaging, effects of society’s mental violence.

A common theme within many of the works was imagery of restriction and imprisonment, including Malayerba’s deeply poignant photograph of a goldfish in a bowl on the seashore. A photography series by Cristina Cuevas, Women Out of Focus, was also displayed, which explores women’s loss of identity through its blurred images, with faces that are always obscured.

And yet, despite this gallery of violence, I found WOMAN surprisingly hopeful. Mixed in with expressions of confinement and violation were images of sisterhood, motherhood and hope, such as Friere’s painting, almost child-like in its simplicity, of Russian dolls of different nationalities surrounding a globe.

"WOMAN is a powerful exploration of the physical and mental violence perpetrated by our society against women"

Malayerba’s photographs proudly defy conventional norms of beauty and its importance: my favourite captures an old woman’s wrinkled, cellulite-pitted stomach and sun-spotted breasts, inscribed with the words ‘mi valia no depende de mi fiscio’ (my value doesn’t depend upon my physical appearance).

Another of Malayerba’s photographs shows a clasped pair of wrinkled hands, entitled simply Jump!. The writing on the wall beside it reads: ‘no prince came to save her, she saved herself, she killed the dragon, she escaped from [the] castle, she saved her children’. Overall, WOMAN is a powerful exploration of the physical and mental violence perpetrated by our society against women. At the same time, it is also an inherent rebellion against this, and a celebration of female power and worth.

(Featured image: Unsplash / Nicole King)


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