With a strong interest in images presented by today's media that continue to idealise and objectify the human form, "Contour States" comprises a collection of sculpture, photography, collage and drawings that explore representations of female identity in photography, TV, film and advertisements.
Cornerhouse is pleased to present the first major UK public solo show by
British artist Samantha Donnelly, with new work staged over two floors in the
public gallery space on Oxford Road. With a strong interest in images
presented by today’s media that continue to idealise and objectify the human
form, Contour States comprises a collection of sculpture, photography,
collage and drawings that explore representations of female identity in
photography, TV, film and advertisements.
Traditional media such as wax and paint are combined with images from magazines and film, assembled from everyday objects. Underpinned by references to art history and popular culture, Donnelly’s distinctive practice is concerned with breaking down subjects and reconfiguring them as new objects in an altered state. Contour States examines how the portrayal of women in media occupies our field of vision, permeates our memories and arguably shapes our future.
Strung forms of delicate, semi-painted plaster casts of mannequins, reminiscent of the mass-produced, generic and sexualised figures of the female body, are anchored into the architecture of the gallery through a series of eyelets and displayed alongside three-dimensional sculptures. These make reference to tabloid representations of women, created from silhouettes spray-painted with fake tan onto household cleaning cloths in various gradations of shades and lipstick, acrylic nails and other cosmetic products. By adding further layers of objects including buttons, lace, net, small mirrors, false eyelashes and ribbons, Donnelly provides the finished work with a fragmented and abstract quality - some pieces appear relic-like and precious, whereas others are seemingly transient and ephemeral, on the edge of dissolving.
Contour States creates an illusion of erotically charged nudity, but fundamentally only offers a fiction to buy into and invest in. Rather than just presenting a finalised work, Donnelly actively encourages her audience to engage with the process through which meanings are made and unmade.
Image: Samantha Donnelly, Death in the afternoon (2011)
70 Oxford Street - Manchester
Gallery opening times: Mon: Closed, Tue – Sat: 12.00 – 20.00, Sun: 12.00 – 18.00