MAKING A STORY
"Imagine, for a minute, what it would be like to inhabit a body without fear" - there's a difference between living a story and making a story
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Built from essential fragments, Making a Story acknowledges a woman's body as her most active and activating canvas as opposed to the depiction of the female nude as part of a revered tradition that allows her no agency to take authority over the depiction of her nudity; allows her no choice but "simply to be available" in Carolee Schneemann's words. What happens when all labels are torn off? When all skin's shed? When all blood's bled? How to confine one's essence within the arbitrary layers of social expectations & obligations? It is easy to lean into the obvious but it is important to be reminded that relatability to women's plight does not amount to solidarity.To simply acknowledging a problem doesn't necessarily begin to fix it; it is possible to be both broader in one's perspective and still complicit in its lack of resolution especially in the face of ever-present tension between the wish for freedom and a counter-wish to clamp down, to tense up, to forbid or even to destroy the sense of self that urges to release the body from fear and prejudice. Hannah Wilke's "To diffuse self-prejudice, women must take control of and have pride in the sensuality of their bodies and create a sensuality in their own terms, without referring to the concepts degenerated by society." serves as the leitmotif of Making a Story, a project so densely layered with visual metaphor, so flush with archetypes and symbols, that it operates like its own semiotic system.
Seeped in bejeweled colors, these photographs are an invitation to ongoing conversation on the tension between defiant hope and sober realism with its ultimate horizon of a body without fear rather than bland assent on how the body is kept compliant by internalized prejudices and external forces. To this end the deliberately statuesque nature of the women, jumping from one photograph to the next, speaks to their right to preserve an authentic sense of self, their bodies open and insatiable, unwilling to diminish themselves in order to fit into the strict confines of society's definition of a woman as a voiceless, traditional and non-threatening presence.
The true source of the body's power is the vulnerability. In order to speak to the need to give in to this vulnerability, Making a Story combines elements from Color Field Painting Movement, typically dominated by the yearning for transcendence and the infinite, with the exploration of simulated texture, lacy and traditionally feminine, to stimulate both sight and touch in order to foreshadow the difference between living a story and making a story as women find themselves plastered against literal and metaphorical walls. Which story does Making a Story tell?
Is it synonymous with unencumbered love and desire, in other words, the common use of the word "romantic"or does it stand for an explicit critique of the kind of attitude that legitimizes the power struggles and material constraints that hold women down? The philosopher Alain Badiou asserts that "the great question about contemporary art is how not to be Romantic". Are these photographs Romantic? Or, are they a representation of Xheka's commitment to the promise of bodily freedom, of every body's right to move and feel and love without harming or being harmed?
  • Visual Influences

Didier Massard - his work is considered magical realism rather than photography thanks to the ethereal lighting and romantic sense of illusion they have resulting in a meticulous and slow-paced rhythm to complete "an inner imaginary journey".

John William Godward - working in the Neoclassical style, his figures are a combination of many different colors and textures all captured in flawless fashion.