The female gaze has existed in Western popular culture as a device of desire, control, and exploitation that has effectively been a primary tool of heteronormative power, fuelled by the economies of masculinity and religious sanctioned traditions. In the mid to late twentieth century, advertising companies, for example, knew that they can sell more cars to men if the images of such were inclusive of beautiful, young, scantily dressed buxom women and the bigger the bust, the more cars could be sold and so forth. This, of course, is one small example of a very big practice yet what would happen if this kind of aesthetic model was disrupted through the guise of the grotesque and the female gaze was subsequently transformed into a mutated corporeal state?
Drawing on her childhood memories of soft porn calendars which regularly adorned her parent’s kitchen wall in Far North Queensland, artist Tammy Honey reconfigures a metamodernist framework through her critical practice which establishes an oscillation between the desires of the female gaze and the disruption of transfiguration. It raises questions, on the one hand, about the economies of aesthetic desire in terms of our acceptance of what is and what is not ‘normal’ - that is to say, can a woman, for example, with no arms and three legs still be as beautiful as a woman with two arms and two legs? - while on the other, explores how, over time, our memories of normative desire aesthetics can change and corrupt the way we recall beauty and from this, the prejudices over time that oscillate our own acceptances of desire and beauty.
Through the wider collection of the ongoing ‘iCandy’ (2007-) series, ‘Spidergirl’ (2018) challenges the way we see beauty in desire by inviting the viewer to confront their own aesthetic prejudices and engage with this kind of disruption as a mirror to our preconceived notions as to what it means to be beautiful in the age of aesthetic disruption.
Jessica Schwientek, curator. May, 2018