The Winged Victory of Samothrace. 220-190 BC
Classical Roman statues romanticize and mythologize femininity. Women are ethereal and unapproachable, except to the male gaze. This woman is powerful in her posture yet trapped in stone. The problem with this image is the contradictions it presents, the powerful woma nwith wingswho can not move. Strong yet ensnared under another’s control.
The Lovers. Rene Magritte, 1928
This image fascinates me and I am very intrigued by Magritte’s surrealist paintings. Here the couples pictured behind a scenic pastoral setting. The man is behind the woman and appears to slightly dominate her posture. The woman’s physical presence is felt through her central position in the composition. The drapery covering the couple’s faces hints at mystery in their identity and personal situation. The problem with this painting is that it makes clear the desire to see the sitter’s physical presence. Without it the painting is deemed unreal yet there is a quiet beauty in the absence of portraiture.
Lisa Lyon. Robert Mapplethorpe, 1982
This image is powerful through its juxtaposition of feminine and masculine elements. Here we have the female body of Lisa Lyon which is positioned in a muscular pose similar to that of a man. Lisa’s femininity is evident only through the sight of her bare breasts as she flexes her muscles and stands forward. Curiously Lisa’s face is covered with a veil, evoking a bride or classical goddess. Mapplethorpe’s image is problematic as it signifies the idealized notion of masculinity and femininity through a singular subject. Women are powerful but they are also faceless and held back by the trappings of their sex.
Sally Mann- from the Immediate Family Series, 1982
Here one of Mann’s daughters rests naked in a pool while a stream of water passes through her. This photograph is problematic as it is not completely in focus so the viewer cannot fully investigate the details of the scene. However, the image is whimsical and romantic through the soft focus and gentle depiction of the girl. Yet, there is also a feeling of darkness and isolation that surrounds the girl.
Hui-Chan Kuo, Tube series 2001
Here two women sit seemingly in a normal scene on the Taipei MRT. However, one woman is clothed while the other is naked. The juxtaposition and duality of the image is very intriguing. The image appears surreal almost like a strange fantasy come to life. It is dreamlike in its random use of the nude female. The two women are sitting together in an intense position which hints at homosexual love. Perhaps the problem with this image is that gay love and normalcy have yet to coexist in Taiwan.