Exposure by Genevieve Pedulla:
Interpreted through the view of Griselda Pollock’s piece The “View from Elsewhere”
“Exposure” by Genevieve Pedulla can be interpreted as an expression of a young woman’s journey of reclaiming her identity through feminist thought. In order to portray this crossing-over experience into self-defining and self-identity, it takes more than just one photograph to convey a process that has taken a person’s entire lifetime thus far; which is why the entire set of “Exposure” was grouped together as one in this catalogue entry. This photograph series has managed to convey a sense of honesty from the artist that expresses a sense of green naivety and yet raw jaggedness at the same time.
This conveyance of frankness derives from the perspective of one young woman reinterpreting herself through a feminist mindset. This painting subtly portrays an inner quest to reanalyze oneself in regard to questions of sexuality and representation, spectatorship and power. When one grows up in a patriarchal society, it is only natural and expected to view through a male lens in which deconstruction of such thinking can turn into a lifetime process. Once one makes the commitment it becomes extremely difficult to find your way out of what is known as the “matrix of patriarchy.”
One of the reasons why this is so hard to do is because all existing histories (art history included) and theories of reading, writings, sexuality, ideology, or any other cultural production are built on male narratives of gender, bound by the heterosexual contract; narratives which persistently reproduce themselves in feminist theories. This tends to happen, and will do so unless one constantly resists and critiques others analysis and interpretations as well as one’s own.
As the artist of this piece expresses her own personal struggle through identifying herself outside of the definitions and expectations of patriarchy, a self conflicting dichotomy unravels across the set of photographs. How does a developing mind already unsure of the complexities of life and self-worth manage to find new answers to questions that have already been explained by men a thousand times, redefining definitions that have been set in stone for generations, or figuring out how to interact in society when gender roles are all you have ever known? What you get is a young woman’s expression of feministic growing pains, subtle contradictions that the inner self either has not noticed or quite figured out how to solve yet, and a healing process embarking towards a brighter, more fulfilled future.
This construction of gender which takes place through the interlaced processes of representation and self-representation that all Western Art and high culture ‘engraves’ on the individual as “technologies of gender.” What the artist tries to do in her series of photographs is to equally become a medium for radical deconstruction of gender. As her tattoos become a mechanism for communication in her photographs, the importance lies in the tattoos themselves as well as where they are placed. One of her tattoos she makes into the focal point of two photographs which are an ambiguous cluster of belonged ovals that are centered on her hip. One could interpret this as the ceaselessly unanswered question of what is true womanhood.
When one looks at how the tattoos further convey the meaning of the photography set as a whole, once notices the placement of tattoos share a bilinear relationship between the intimate and practical parts of the body, showcase not only what her redefining of sexuality into sensuality, but also the practical parts that usually do not get included on the feminine pedestal including, the arms that can be used to hold a child or the back that bears life’s burdens.
In this series of photographs, the artist defines herself and by extension humanity’s womanhood outside the confines of class and consumption; bringing the female essence to its most basic form. The artist is a woman exposing her own womanhood that represents an essence that is inherent in all women. This very act is reclaiming worth to a particular perception that is so commonly in our patriarchal society overlooked and undervalued. To patriarchy, not all women hold value; only certain bodies are worthy of male desire.
One can tell that certain photographs focus on portraying a high value for womanhood. One in particular bears striking similarities to one of Edvard Munch’s pieces “Madonna.” Both Portray a young woman with her eyes closed, arms removed or position in a way that leaves the breasts jutting out completely exposed, but the artist does put some unique twist on her own interpretation of this painting. The young woman in the photography set is covered in a wet white sheet that leaves a vague image that Evard Munch simply interpreted and abstracted. It is also different in the fact that the photograph is from a woman representing a woman and not just a man’s interpretation of a female model. This brings new meaning to the photography piece as it conveys not only how a woman’s sexuality leaves vulnerability, but also how woman can reclaim their bodies through art,
This not only provides woman with self-given/self-received respect, but also an unspoken “talking cure” that helps enable women to endure the struggles that exist in a patriarchal society. Using art as a form of art therapy and an alternative means of communication of expression, the artist conveys her own self-worth and value of women in society. This is important when considering that there is equally a “listening cure” that is a natural part of therapy for women.
Through the artist’s expression of feministic identity, she not only manages to redefine one’s sense of self, but also many important aspects of women’s lives including, sexuality into sensuality and the just as important components of intimacy and practicality that all women hold and what should be equally celebrated and cherished. Reclaiming one’s self in a patriarchal society is not something you check off on your “to do list,” but rather a journey you pursue each day with each analysis that happens within the privacy of your own thoughts and the actions you make outside, The very act of a woman showcasing art is feministic, but Genevieve Pedulla goes a step further by giving art a purpose towards the betterment of all woman.