Models of Resistance
Opening Saturday, April 11th running through May 2nd, 2015
2423 Granville St., Vancouver, BC, V6A 3G5
Grossmann’s new works address the role performance plays in the assumption and persistence of gender identity in a postmodern world. The emotional and vulnerable nature of these portraits ‘play’ with erotica, using the assumption of the voyeuristic gaze and the socially acceptable expectation of female behavior as a starting point. Grossmann’s dramatic and deliberate display of the highly sexualized parts of a woman’s body through the raising of skirts, removal of blouses, or in some cases, the addition of bits of real doll’s clothing implies a studied reflection on normative gender identity in relation to the sexed body. But they move beyond a simplistic reiteration of submission and exploitation where beauty is definitive of value. Grossmann’s emphasis on traditional concepts of femininity through costume and apparel actually produces a critique of such judgments.
Though Grossmann’s subjects are not like men, they are equally unlikely women, and seem creatures of an alien sex, parodying both masculinity and femininity simultaneously. Divesting the Madonna, the angel in the house, of her mystique and allure, Grossmann suggests even the most innocent of women are more composite and complicated creatures than any simple image allows.
There is a genuine resistance to objectification in Grossmann’s women that defeat any simple understanding of ‘the gaze’. Her women are confident in their bodies and in their sexuality, they invite glances and return them through expression and gesture and thus contravene the idea of ownership and commodification of the female body as the ‘woman on display’ ultimately transforming them into potent images of female empowerment.