Terrains of the Body: Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Whitechapel Gallery

18 January – 16 April 2017

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A display of rarely-seen works from an American collection dedicated to female artists.

Hellen van Meene, Untitled (79), 2000

The concept of the 'male gaze' was first introduced by feminist writer Laura Mulvey in 1975, who argued that visual art depicts the world from a masculine point of view, presenting women as objects of pleasure. This influential theory – publicised in the decade when second wave feminists were calling for a change to sexist power structures – has forced a reexamination of how women are represented in art.

This display sees women take control of the camera, turning the lens on themselves and others. The female body is no longer a passive subject for meaning to be imposed upon, but a vital tool by which women are able to express their identity and reflect on both their individual and shared experiences.

Featured are works by 17 female artists from five continents, adding to the gallery's impressive track record of gender diversity. (When feminist activists The Guerilla Girls were offered a show at the Whitechapel Gallery recently, they asked for the proportion of females who had been exhibited in the last five years. They accepted when they discovered it was 40%.)

The exhibition is part of a series showcasing rarely-seen collections, so unless you want to hop on a flight to Washington DC, make sure you see it here this spring.

Don't miss

Marina Abramović’s powerful self-portrait shows her sitting motionless on a white horse, with her hair and flag blowing in the wind. She dedicates the piece to 'her hero' her father, who rescued her mother from the battlefields of the Second World War.

After seeing her hair from the top of a blanket he carried her to safety on his horse, and she later saved his life with a blood transfusion.

Also displayed is the work of Nan Goldin, who uses photography to capture her life at the centre of New York City’s gay scene in the 1970s.

Venue information

Opening times

Tue – Sun, 11am – 6pm (Thu until 9pm) Closed 24 – 26 Dec

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