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SMILING MONA LISA (2007)
Photo Gallery_
FEMALE MYTHS - Smiling Mona Lisa (exhibition)
Dékei Krisztina
Magyar Narancs, Year XIX. Issue 38.
2007

It may seem that one can see the pieces of three individual artists with three different styles in the gallery of the Volksbank central building in Budapest. What they share in common is that they are women, but before we move onto the slippery ground of female art, we must state that the oeuvre of the three artists - Moizer Zsuzsa, Paál Zsuzsanna and Tamás Claudia - does not reflect the earlier commitment of international art to an emancipatory, movement-driven feminism, or the post-feminist creative approach, which tries to question/destroy political and power relations between the sexes and stereotypes related to sexual roles. While it is apparent that we can see the objectified imprints of three individual, typically female points of view, we cannot rightly claim that these pieces - in a critical, ironic or hidden way - "thematise" questions of sexual or social identity, or focus on only these problems.

 

This is strengthened by the complicated compound subtitle of the exhibition ("self-portrait-light-film-image") - enveloping the exhibited pieces in a purple haze, a mysterious-complicated atmosphere. And if we want to create some kind of order in the atmosphere dubbed "spiritual pulsation" by the curator of the exhibition, Bretus Imre, or to analyse the pieces of female artists, we do not need the theoretical framework of female art.

 

Moizer Zsuzsa has been interested in herself and in her self-image for a couple of years, now in oil paint after the water colours. The role of technological change is negligible, as the owners of the painful button-eyes that always stare at the onlooker, these very similar, sorrowful self-portraits, and the sketchy frontal figures only indicated by their brownish-yellow silhouettes have the same relation to the white field of the picture. The childish, badly-developed female bodies, the sad eyes, the curled-smirking lips emanate a choking distress; the recognition of bondage behind opening up confuses the perceiver. In the series of self-portraits in ‘Inner Garden' the bodiless bodies floating in the shadow of death, the suffering figures (Moizer's previous work included gouts of blood, bloody hands, amputated limbs) are now entwined by the green leaves of tiny baobab branches. The plants growing from hands and necks are soothing and terrifying at the same time, just like the babies who - so to say - push down, or ‘ride' their female bearers.

 

While the framework of the private Passion was previously provided by the life of saints (St. Clara and Febronia), Moizer now uses and reads certain elements of Egyptian and Hellenistic mythology in a female manner. She invokes anthropomorphic beings (Caryatids, women with a pigeon's body) and Christian motifs that developed from antique iconography (the Good Shepherd holding a lamb on her shoulder is undoubtedly a woman here), but she also uses the composition scheme of a well-known group (where Laocoon's snake is substituted for a thick hair braid). At the endpoint of Moizer's face-multiplication there are the natural duplicates (the ‘Twins' series) - the girl figures only differing in the colour of their hair evoke the archaic fears that are connected to twins, and the modern ones connected to losing/not finding one's identity.
While the mythologies serve as a framework to Moizer's private Passions, the work of the graphic artist and animated film-maker Paál Zsuzsanna can be connected to the current of individual mythologies. The installation evokes a state out of time, craving for harmony and completeness, with extraterrestrial beings, water, lights and sounds. On the edge of a pool human-bodied, crane-headed figures turn towards the water, the shadow of their slowly moving wings blends with the pictures of water-fragments projected on the background, while we can hear real splashes of water. The mysterious, supernatural atmosphere of this his monotonous ritual - of which the purpose is unknown - is caused by the opposition of non-movement (the bird-beings never fly away) and the movement of continually changing lights and sounds. It is still a question, though, who and to what extent is ready to accept or experience this.

 

We can nevertheless get acquainted with an individually created, up to now non-existent world, contrary to the pieces of Tamás Claudia, who connects prefabricated icons - portraits of cultic, idolised female stars such as Madonna or Audrey Hepburn, or pictures of not lesser known film-couples such as Liz Taylor or Richard Burton - to her own photographs taken from the same angles. The mirror copy of ‘Me as Uma Thurman' or the artist and her boyfriend as clones of Marilyn Monroe and Yves Mondand - this in not a bit ironic knowing the fact that Tamás sees "the baby, the beauty and the attractive" at the same time in herself. The effort to uplift this simple mapping is in vain - Tamás pours paint randomly on the picture made up of mythological show-business heroes (painted after the photos), and the one showing her and her boyfriend - if it lacks deep-felt self-representation. This is one of the existing ways - but it looks like a light, shallow, (female) artistic solution.

 

mancs.hu

Translated by Bálint Szele