Stereotypes of femininity are questioned, as happens on Viviane Sassen’s work. She choreographs and stages her models’ bodies in unexpected ways and abstracts them using analogue methods of altering the images. The framing, inverting the order of above and below, painted skin and superimposed objects challenge the viewer and raise questions about common clichés. A former model herself, Sassen has said it is through her photographic practice that she has been able to reclaim power over her own body.
Inez & Vinoodh are also known to manipulate the human body in their work; in their case, by means of digital tools. Pioneers of this digital manipulation in the early ‘90s, they’ve been disrupting the photography world ever since. They not only challenge common modes of representation but also the limits of photography’s reputation of showing the truth. Their images capture transgression of boundaries in a time where it’s still very important to keep revisiting those – as Instagram diligently reminds us every time we want to post an image that shows a female nipple.
All through the exhibition visitors will be faced with questions of self-perception, the gaze of the other, identity and emotion. In the words of Matthias Harder, “as we view these images, questions come into focus concerning how we are perceived by others and by ourselves, identity and the collective. In the process, our occasionally voyeuristic gaze collides with the images of naked or dressed, and then bounces back at us. As in the live events by Vanessa Beecroft or the choreographies by Sasha Waltz, we, the audience, are also seen by the naked models and dancers, and the supposed protection of our clothing quickly becomes threadbare.”