The WAX Series
Wax is the latest project by Vasilisa Forbes which takes explicit, hyper-sexualised visuals inspired by contemporary advertising and Pop Art, to generate a dialogue on women's representation in public media and the arts.
#WAXCHICK series images directly address the issue of female representation in the public realm - the appearance and projection of women in advertisements and public presence: the way they are styled, stylised and presented in terms of physical appearance, dress, attitude to the camera, attitude to the viewer. The artworks are an important discussion on the male-directed gaze of adverts generated predominantly by large corporations; perpetuating the view-point of the straight, male, gaze. The adverts we often see present a view through the conventional, often misogynistic male eye only: and in this way sexualising the female body or pacifying the female personality to become a stylised image constantly re-used for the purpose of selling, attracting the straight-male attention, and using sex to sell.
The images created by Vasilisa for the WAX series make subversive commentary on this: encouraging viewer interaction & encouraging an unsettling emotional response by re-creating conventionally sexualised images to a dramatised extent to pose a question to the public viewer - is this something you are prepared to accept? or will this sort of imagery be challenged? How far can we go within the advertising realm - how much can we show, what are the boundaries that companies are prepared to put forward and how does this effect the everyday-viewer who is subjected to this repetitive, overpowering, forced media.
She references artists like Allen Jones in her work to analyse the way an image of a woman by a man vs an image of a woman by a woman in the same sexualised context is received - is our understanding of misogyny and the ‘male-gaze’ so internalised that we are prepared, as women to objectify ourselves through our choice of clothing and self-presentation.
With WAX, the lead image of the series starts with 'Wax Woman As Table' which was shown across a selection of London billboards to become a direct comment on its source (commercial imagery).
Following a discussion with artist Allen Jones who is famous for his table sculptures, Vasilisa decided to raise the question of ownership of the female body by creating a direct link with Allen's work through posing herself as table in a self-portrait. This opened up a series of self portraits titled WAX, a short film exploring female sexuality vs male dominance and a series of images titled Disarchy which deconstruct the 'photoshop-perfection' of the WAX series.
WAX raises a discussion of the visual identity of capitalist selling, objectification of the female body and the impact of popular-culture images of women. The fact we see these images projected in large format across the London cityscape directly addresses the public and our perception of public-to-private art, as well as notions of street art display against advertising. The WAX images address questions in young women of 'taking back ownership of the body' and how women choose to present it.
The 'photoshop-perfect' WAX images take cues from historical portraits, (which reference the art-worlds usage of objects as presentations of glamour) and through this the objectification shown in Wax becomes directly sexual and immediately a comment on the 'woman's role' and part she plays in advertising items, including within art works.
Vasilisa's aim is to create a sensation of 'power play' with the historical ideal of how women should be presented in an image, and the modern aspiration of young women, including the element of aggressive sexuality and male fantasy to fuel the actions behind the poses in the series.
The accompanying series 'Disarchy' which features deconstructed, 'photoshop' collages of the images in the series creates an immediate comment on this area - showing the points of edit, removing backgrounds and colours to show the core of the image, and address our obsession and use of the Adobe Photoshop tool; something that has been called 'The New Readymade' , or 'the indisposable tool' for all creatives. This becomes an important tool in discussing the display of women's bodies, and the obsession with the 'perfection of the female form', being 'fake or natural', where a large dialogue unravels.
With this, the WAX series took to the street to pose a question to modern viewers - can a woman objectify herself and what is the difference?
The WAX video engages a further form of dialogue in a powerfully subversive and visually direct tone. Fusing existing popular song lyrics with sexualised imagery, the result is a sensation of unease, caution and dark familiarity. Created by fusing the juxtaposition of ‘available’, vulnerable or highly sexual imagery and gestures against the powerful impact and masculine tone of popular song lyrics which reflect the ‘male’ voice of the video - a poignant driven undercurrent becomes apparent.
The featured lyrics, taken directly from real, existing songs from contemporary and early 20th Century pop-music, including famous artists like John Lennon, Black Flag, Def Leppard, Madonna, Slayer, Weezer, Nickelback and many others, portray an array of dominating voices taken from different genres, times and trends - what they have in common is the strength of the words in relation to its force on women, and the popularity of the songs in pop culture.
Through feedback, many women who had witnessed the video could agree that they had at one time in their lives encountered such words directed either at them or others of their fellow gender.
The visual aspect of the video is arranged to appear at first as a conventional or commonly stylised ‘fashion film’, but as the narrative of both the music and subtitled lyrics develop, the underlying darkness and meaning of the film is revealed, descending into extreme objectification towards the end.
Teaming the incredible force of the popular lyrics when set against the sexualised, objectified imagery, the question of our acceptance of tones of dialogue, pornography and the impact of popular culture are raised.
Vasilisa Website and Bio: http://vasilisaforbes.co.uk/about
Wax Film -
East End Film Festival 2016 at Genesis Cinema
London Short Film Festival 2016: ICA, Hackney Picturehouse
ICA - Fashion Film Identity Panel discussion
In House Festival
Shorts On Tap - Winner
Library London Wax Live
Kobini Digital Premiere 6 Countries
Karst Artist Screenings
Women in Revolt
Parallell Viena - Electronic Relations
LSFF16 Short Film Festival
ICA - Fashion Film Identity
Hungry Eye Cover
Hungry Eye Press
Girls on Film
Shorts on Tap
Golden Boi Press
Rai Italian TV