Patty Chang (San Francisco, USA, 1972) is author and protagonist of the four videoperformances in this exhibition. In them, Chang tackles the issue of female identity with different examples and from different situations. The artist creates a dense network intertwining the autobiographical -the very body of the artist or references to episodes of her life- with the construction and socio-cultural acceptance of women.
Although this work shows no strong political commitment of feminist influences, Chang displays a variety of issues concerning the recognition of women and their representation, not only in iconic terms. To accomplish this she develops a conceptual and visual discourse from a set of metaphors with which she foregrounds the struggle between memory and individual experience as well as the demand for social adaptation.
In Come with me, swim with you (1998) Chang shares a bathtub with a plastic doll. The way she triggers this action allows different interpretations; one can speak of struggle, of love or passion. In any of the readings, she shows the duality of a conflict between autonomy, difference and the objectual character with which woman has historically been considered.
Fountain (1999) is an exercise where she reintroduces the myth of Narcissus. Faced with a linear reading of action where only the stereotype of visual consumption seems to prevail, Chang inverts formats and gestures and reaffirms the power of emancipation, which passes the test and conscious mastery of self.
The piece Melons (1998) has a heavy autobiographical load. Chang violently and explicitly introduces the pain and fragility of the female body, by emptying and eating the contents of her metaphorical breasts. In Shaved (1998-1999) the artist, blinded by a band, shaves her own pubic hair. Highly ritualised, the process shifts the intimate nature of the action to a public sphere, and presents the dysfunction between an aesthetic construction of the difference of gender and the ability to control and decide about the body and its social dimension.
In all these cases, Patty Chang, heir to the practices of Body Art, emphasises the visibility of a violent nature, which allows her to highlight the condemnation of roles imposed and rooted in the construction of female identity.
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