Are we what we do?
Updated: Jul 13, 2019
Are We What We Do?
This week’s theme is titled “Female Guidelines”.
Through visual stories our curators research the question “In what ways are female guidelines being challenged?”
Csilla Klenyánszki’s ongoing project The Reminiscence of Being a Woman (2017) is a photo series and personal research project about gender roles, specifically the role of a woman in a traditional society.
Gender roles and stereotypes are socially constructed behaviors and functions which are often attributed to a certain gender according to what society considers suitable. Gender theorist Judith Butler elaborates on this and states that gender “is in no way a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts proceed; rather, it is an identity tenuously constituted in time – an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts”. That is, gender is nothing more than a performance and in traditional society we are made to believe that we must perform according to the established guidelines.
Conventionally, women have been seen as responsible for childcare and housework. With her playful mix of portraiture, sculpture and still life photography Klenyánszki explores and visualizes the evolution of female objectification by making use of domestic chores. The women in the photographs blend into objects (to the point of losing their identity) that are representative of different types of housework. From a table wearing high heels to the fusion of a woman with a plant: the woman transforms into the performance and vice-versa.
In this series female guidelines are being challenged by, somewhat sarcastically, dehumanizing the female body by turning it into nothing but a functional object. With this work, Klenyánszki questions where one’s identity ends and the body becomes nothing but a (functional) object (and vice versa).
About the artist: Csilla Klenyánszki (1986) is a Hungarian photographer from Budapest, currently working in Amsterdam. In 2012 she finished her BA in Photography at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, NL.
Klenyánszki says of her own work that it is “a search for balance with a problem solving attitude” through which she aims to “carefully examine and deconstruct personal, but universally known challenges such as parenthood, gender, and the malleability of self identity through the passage of time”. She states that even though her approach is analytic, the nature of her work is extremely playful and experimental – she dances on the verge of nonsense in order to provide new perspectives.
She is also the founder of the initiative Mothers in Arts (www.mothersinarts.com) , which is a residency aiming to support women artists who are also mothers: it offers a studio space combined with a communal daycare and it is free of charge. Mothers in Arts believes that women have to remain part of the art community after they’ve become mothers.
Check out Csilla Klenyánszki’s full body of work at www.klenyanszki.com or on Instagram @csillaklenyanszki
Further Reading: Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory by Judith Butler (published in Theatre Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, 1988, pp. 519–531)
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Written by Rita Boliero