The recent popularity of images of female masochism expresses not only sexual fantasy, but also refers to women’s position in contemporary culture. Depersonalization is thought to be one of the most radical forms of masochism. Depersonalization is a denial of independence. In the times of rapid changes and when women negotiate new social positions and build an identity based on „independence,” can the feeling of weakness and powerlessness have an emancipatory dimension? Could objectification on demand gives a sense of liberation from cultural conventions?
curatorial text by Zofia Krawiec accompanying the „Masochists” exhibition, ZONA gallery, Szczecin, PL 17.05–15.06.2019
Skin is an ambiguous construct. It is the external cover of the body, its soft and firm protection, as well as its visual representation. Yet, as it wraps the body tightly, it cannot be taken off nor changed. It not only represents the body but also dooms it to the definite form. It is skin that signalizes individual’s identity which criteria – gender, race, age – are frequently used and imposed as fixed definitions to structure political, economic and social hierarchies.
The photographic series combines of self-portraits in the silicone costumes imitating female face and body, used by men practicing Masking fetish. While for Maskers wearing the female costume means emancipation, for me posing in a hampering, silicone disguise was a perplexing experience.
In the present, women are building their new social identity on independence. Demonstrating a proving independence and power can be a demanding “costume” to wear. Wearing the naked female body costume seemed at the same time expose and disguise, identify and depersonalize myself.
The self-disguise and self-portrait became a subversive experiment that turned the photographic record into a performative process, drawing out the complex relation between submission and emancipation.