Un-Censored explores the photographic series ‘Fig Leaves’ created by emerging photographer Ella-Maude Wilson, and its commentary on an aged tradition of censorship of the human body in contemporary society. Curated by Christina Massolino.
Where you can see it: Carclew Foyer Gallery, Kaurna Country, 11 Jeffcott St, North Adelaide.
When you can see it: 6 February to 30 April 2020, 9am–5pm Monday to Friday.
Why you should see it: After travelling to Italy on a study tour as a Contemporary Art student last year, Ella-Maude created the series ‘Fig Leaves,’ which she wrote of in Verse Magazine Edition 31. The series features seven digital photographs taken on self-timer. Ella-Maude poses as a Euro-Centric marble sculpture, self-censoring her breasts and genitals with her own hands, which have been photoshopped on. The series comments on censorship of the human body, particularly the ‘female’ body, in response to witnessing the repetitive naked and sexual representation of females within galleries in Italy, such as the Accademia. It speaks of ‘fig-leafing’ or The Fig Leaf Campaign, which is the act historically carried out in art where the naked body of Classical sculptures/artworks have been censored with a fig leaf or a loincloth, most notably during the rise of Christianity in the Middle Ages.
Curator’s Fun Fact: The polypropylene material Ella-Maude has printed on allows for the light in the exhibition space to reflect of her skin similarly to how a marble sculpture would.
When Ella-Maude presented her works at Uni to be exhibited at the end of the study tour, they were taken down without her consent, approval or knowledge.
As Ella-Maude and I were in the same course at Uni the situation became quite personal to me. When she investigated further, the staff that took her artworks down told her they were bordering ‘pornographic,’ in what was probably the most ironic moment we experienced at art school. I remember Ella-Maude posting about it on Instagram, furious, and rightfully so. Ella-Maude challenged the censorship publicly, stating that “to shut my work up before it’s even had a chance to speak for itself means that everyone loses.” How could an artistic series that is so skilfully, technically and conceptually planned out be denied wall space at an art school? Most likely, through a disconnect in understanding. It is reasonable that everyone has different perceptions of the world, of what is right, wrong and in-between—especially in regards to nudity and sexuality. That is more than okay, considering everyone comes from different cultures, religions and life experiences. The issue here lies in the dispute surrounding censorship—that Ella-Maude’s series challenged censorship, only to be censored, in an environment that is supposed to encourage boundary pushing and free-thinking.
Curator’s Fun Fact: Each photograph is framed in a non-traditional way, weighted by a piece of wood at the top and bottom. This alludes to the way posters are framed and reminds us of protest art and the Feminist Art Movement.
After completing our studies, this year in my position as Resident Curator at Carclew for 2020, I felt it imperative to allow Ella-Maude the audience she deserves. Together, we put on the exhibition ‘Un-Censored’ to allow people to view her work and commentary, and to allow them to make up their own minds about what is okay to show and what isn’t; especially when using photography, a medium that Ella-Maude describes as relatively new. Is there a difference between a photograph and a sculpture? Is a nude – censored – photograph pornographic, but a marble sculpture not? Decide for yourself, see the exhibition at Carclew Foyer Gallery.
Find more details and read a more in-depth curator statement about the exhibition at http://carclew.com.au/Program/foyer-gallery-exhibitions
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