Throughout her multimedia works, Marta Jovanovic constructs scenarios in which she interrogates identity, beauty and sexuality. Whether through performance, drawing or photography, her interdisciplinary practice provokes a reconsideration of the dictates of culture and the construction of sexual identity. Appropriating the instantly recognizable characteristics of fashion photography, her photographs reveal the limitations of the traditional canon of beauty while drawing attention to the fluidity of gender. Both her performances and photographs are an invitation to disregard conventional notions of beauty and embrace a more democratic vision of representation, free from all constraints.
In a series of nine large format photographs from her performance Shoot Me!, Fuck Art Let’s Dance is an entreaty to discard the status quo. For this performance each participant inhabited the role of dancer, empowered by the costumes to transform into a prima ballerina as they were photographed. Both her subjects, dressed in frilly white tutus, and Jovanovic participate in this act of liberation from the demands of gender stereotypes. In one work, eminent art historian Linda Nochlin completely inhabits her new role and gleefully poses for the camera while in another photograph an older woman poses serenely, with her hands proudly folded over her lap. In other works male members of Jan Fabre’s performance troupe energetically engage with the tutus, mimicking the very notions of femininity and idealized beauty that she aims to deconstruct.
Beatrice Scaccia’s intimate narratives subvert traditional notions of gender through storytelling formats influenced by the narrative schemes of medieval and Renaissance altarpieces and an emphasis on the figure. Loosely rendered in wax, pencil and chalk on paper, Scaccia invents characters drawn from contemporary society that exist in ambiguous spaces devoid of context. Unable to define their own identities, they inhabit dichotomous worlds of dense black or bright white, a consequence of living in what Scaccia describes as a world brimming with self-evident contradictions. She introduces sexual signifiers, from ties and hats to skirts and heels to sex toys to demonstrate the enormous social weight carried by these distinctions. Within the void of each drawing, a small arched window hints at another dimension, at once close and distant. The window neither gives light nor allows darkness, with allusions to both the Renaissance conception of space and more modern metaphorical notions.
Scaccia experiments with scale and structure in her works, constructing scenes that could have been extracted from a missing film. In He, She, It(2010), an androgynous character searches for a true sexuality by trying on different clothes as if borrowing new identities until the escalating frenzy leads him/her to wear everything at once. These drawings are double-sided, a result of an intricate process of pouring beeswax on the back of the drawing that is then removed with an iron to reveal the luminescent image. In Eve (2011), which includes a series of three larger drawings and three loop animations of simple movements, she introduces a new character who wears the same sexual accessories throughout different vignettes. The deliberate confusion of power, gender and sexuality in these works reveal the psychological difficulties of human existence within contemporary society.
Marta Jovanovic was born in Belgrade in 1978. She received a BA at Tulane University,New Orleans, in 2001. Her sculpture LjubavSrecaIstina (LoveFortuneTruth) is permanentlyinstalled at the Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade, Serbia. Her work has been thesubject of exhibitions worldwide including Dance Rehearsal Project, Museo Pietro Canonica,Rome (2009) and Shoot Me! , Location One, New York (2010). Later this year, she willpremiere a new performance at the Quadrilateral Biennale in Rijeka, Croatia. Jovanovic livesand works in New York, Rome, and Belgrade.
Beatrice Scaccia was born in 1978 and studied at the Academy of Arts in Rome. Her workhas been extensively exhibited internationally at institutions including the National CulturalInstitute of Oslo and Seoul, the Crocetti Foundation in Rome, and the Pan Museum in Naples.She realized 21 panels for the Padiglione Italia at the Expo of Aichi in Japan (2005). Her mostrecent solo exhibition was presented at Ugo Ferranti Gallery in Rome (2010). Permanentcollections include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Viareggio and the Ministry of ForeignAffairs in Rome. Scaccia lives and works in New York.For further information, please contact Sandro Bosi at email@example.com.
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Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Leila Heller Gallery, September 2014
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