Hangwoman : the arrested feminine looks into constructions of contemporary masculinity through word-play, image, video, performance and object-making. Taking inspiration from Bruce Nauman’s 1967 film Art Make-Up the title of the wordgame ‘Hangman’ is reconfigured as the conceptual starting point for the exhibition. Instict, traditionally the preserve of the woman, versus the traditionally masculine domain of logic are playfully intertwined in a game involving words, complete or incomplete, alongside the emerging image of in this case the ‘Hangwoman’. The ‘Hangwoman’ can be thought of as a character at once camp and tragic whose illusive presence is felt on the margins or at the intersection between language and image, performance and real life. ‘She’ is not allowed to be herself yet people crave her presence. For Hangwoman : the arrested feminine the gallery space is altered through the use of colour and temporary architectural elements activating conceptual links between the premise for the exhibition and individual works.
Exploring composite and seemingly contradictory identities through contemporary art touches on ideas concerning the construction of narrative and image, sculptural ideas of inside versus outside space and the construction of reality through the interplay of language, experience, the physical and the non-physical. In Art Make-Up, a 4-screen video work where the artist paints his face and torso white, then pink, green and finally black, Nauman explores the intersection between male and female identities by referencing the aesthetics of drag while manifesting an expression of the self as a painting or sculptural work to question the prevailing hierarchies of art objects and identities. The exhibition operates within this context of contested, invented and received cultural currencies through the work of seven contemporary artists and one collaborative pairing. Hangwoman : the arrested feminine occupies a space between ethnographic display and contemporary art exhibition to destabilise categories and re-frame processes for the production of meaning in art, history and identity.