Ausstellung: 28.04.2022 - 25.06.2022
Künstler: Milja Laurila
Veranstalter & Ort:
Galerie Persons Projects
During Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022.
Persons Projects is proud to present Milja Laurila’s Untitled Women series, which utilizes a present day feminist lens to understand how women have historically been viewed by men.
The 1930s book titled Woman. An Historical Gynæcological and Anthropological Compendium acts as a point of departure for Laurila’s work. Originally published in German in 1885 and written by three men, the book is illustrated with hundreds of photographs of naked women and children from all over the world, primarily colonized countries. This cross between anthropology, racism, and sexism, come together to create an uncomfortable viewing experience that claims to be ‘scientific’. The photographed women have no voice and they are presented as exotic specimens found in nature. The ethnographic pictorial style allowed the pretence of looking at women objectively and innocently. The exoticizing gaze, with its sexual desire, was hidden behind the veneer of legitimate scientific inquiry.
Instead of allowing this shameful piece of human history to be kept in the past, Laurila brings the book back, and keeps it in dialectic conversation with current feminist perspectives to flip the notion of the gaze on its head. This 1930s book addresses the binary and hierarchical gender divide, which states that men have the power to gaze upon women, but women can only be the subject. Using found photographs, Laurila’s work inverts this original perspective: She uses a translucent paper to hide the ‘scientific’ photo, making only the eyes visible and obscuring the body. This forces the viewer to be looked at by the women in a new way; Put in the position of the original photographer, they must question the act of looking and must reflect on history. Laurila asks, "How does it feel to be looked at?”.