The Gagosian states that the selected group of “paintings, sculptures, and photographs on view demonstrate how the female figure has been reimagined and reconfigured by modern and contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds and traditions,” however, it features only 5 female-identifying artists out of 28 artists total. Of these 28 artists, a majority are white. This leads to an exhibit that not only is lacking in a diversity of backgrounds and traditions, but one that is also blatantly ignoring the conjunctions between race and gender.
Unfortunately, the exhibit put on by the Gagosian is only too representative of past and current norms surrounding the viewpoints society platforms for creation and consumption surrounding the figural.
We wish to counter Bustes de Femmes and the other of 1000s of exhibits like it, by presenting the works of femxle and queer identifying artists whose skill in figural portraiture demonstrates a diverse array of contemporary visions, sensitivities, and/or ideals, that usurp or unconventionally assume the traditional utilization of the male and/or dominant gazes. The goal is to address institutionalized gender roles and gendered racial stereotypes, and the subsequent sexism and racism perpetuated by them. This is in order to facilitate the interrogation and examination of the traditional motives and depictions of gender and sex, while proposing new or uncommon narratives. These ideas will be addressed from queer and femxle perspectives that are traditionally unheard from, in order to reimagine and reconstruct traditional racialized and gendered power structures upon which these institutionalized spaces were built and thrive. This is in order to combat the unequal ratio of queer and femxle art and perspectives that are being showcased within the museum and art worlds via institutions.
As independent female-identifying curators, we felt urged to highlight the racial and gendered tension found within the museum and art worlds. We, along with many, are tired of consistently seeing exhibits such as Bustes de Femmes, which glorify a white cis male perspective when talking about the figural, and which play both into and off of traditional racialized patriarchal societal structures that perpetuate harmful views about the feminine body, along with dangerous racial and gendered power structures and binaries.
We hope to provide a space to see others as they are, and to have others see themselves without the constraint of socialized power structures and binaries. The goal is to showcase a vast array of backgrounds and views, and to encourage people regardless of demographic to ask questions pertaining to these themes and topics.
Along with this online exhibit, we will be hosting public discussions with featured artists to further examine the figural gaze and encourage discourse between artists and viewers on a larger scale.
* the biggest thanks to
Sarah Marie Jones for "A Male Nude 3" which is used under the CC commons license.