Accumulated Experience

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    Martha Wilson, Mona/Marcel/Marge, P.P.O.W Gallery, New York, October 22December 22, 2015. Rose English, A Premonition of the Act, Camden Arts Centre, London, December 12, 2015March 6, 2016. Martha Wilson's playful and incisive self-portraiture practice, produced in a variety of guises, has been profoundly influential since the early 1970s and continues to be so today. Her recent solo exhibition at P.P.O.W Gallery, Mona/Marcel/Marge, was composed mostly of photographic works in which Wilson adopts a range of identities, from Vincent van Gogh to the mash-up that gives the show its title - Wilson as Mona Lisa, with the vertical blue hair of Marge Simpson and, when viewed from certain angles, a thin mustache à la Duchamp. Many of the works also deal with aging, particularly as a challenge to prescriptive standards of female beauty. Humor and lightness are characteristic of these challenges. For instance, Thin-skinned has Wilson in profile against a dark background, the image held in a baroque, gold frame, with Wilson shown peeling a layer of skin off her face. The formality of the portrait shades knowingly into kitsch while the word/image play with "thin skin" is gleeful, even breezy. Similarly, Makeover is a series of five photos in which Wilson's face gradually transforms, through the magic of Photoshop, into a young Catherine Deneuve. There is clearly a critique here about demands on women with regard to appearance, as well as a giddy playfulness that finds cracks in the surface of these demands.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)50-55
    Number of pages6
    JournalPAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2016

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
    • Music


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