January 30th, 2017
For Immediate Release
Newark, NJ Project For Empty Space is thrilled to announce the opening of Imprison Her Soft Hand, a solo exhibition by Zoë Buckman, on Wednesday, February 22nd, from 6-8 PM, at the Project For Empty Space gallery in Newark. Ms. Buckman’s project is part of Project For Empty Space’s GRAB BACK: PES Feminist Incubator Space.
Taking both its title and inspiration from John Keats’ Romantic-era poem “Ode on Melancholy,” Imprison Her Soft Hand navigates the complexities of traditional ‘femininity’ and female empowerment. Within this dynamic, Buckman questions paradoxes with the prescribed characteristics of femininity that continue to be espoused in Western society. For example: women are gentle, yet they are also hysterical; women are nurturing, yet weak; women are chaste, yet seductive. Buckman explores these ideas that are often at odds with each other. Her objects reflect a grossly generalized patriarchal narrative that perpetuates the idea that women are simply a discordant binary of characteristics. Her ‘prettying’ of gender-specific medical objects and imagery, speaks to this complicated narrative around the female nature. These works speak to the idea that in this societal scenario, women are given very little agency or voice in shaping a true picture of who or what women are (the answer being that there is no standard for who, what, how, when, or why women are as a collective group).
Though she has been a long time Keats’ admirer, the artist was unable to resolve the problematic implications of the stanza ‘Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows/ Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave/ And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.’ She uses her discontent with this particular element as a departure for general critique on how society has come to view women, both in a historical and contemporary context. By outfitting bunches of boxing gloves in reconstituted wedding dress fabric, Buckman explores the complex aggressions that women face each day. Her use of seemingly discordant textures- ‘tough’ materials such as rough metal with soft ‘feminine’ fabrics, further speaks to this idea, as well as the idea that not only can women be both ‘feminine’ and ‘ferocious’, but that women must be that way.
The clusters of boxing gloves, Let Her Rave (2016), are not only a symbolic critique of patriarchal structures; but also, reflects her own love of the sport. Buckman has been boxing since, 2014, and advocates for women to become more involved in the sport not only as a means of self defense; but also, as a form of physical, emotional, and mental empowerment.
About GRAB BACK: PES Feminist Incubator Space
GRAB BACK: PES Feminist Incubator Space is an impromptu series of short-term residencies, happenings, conversations, performances, and public discourses focusing on the empowerment and freedom of women. Prompted by mainstream attention to what has become a normalized climate of hyper-misogyny, rape-culture, and dehumanization of women, GRAB BACK is a means of cultivating productive and critical intersectional dialogue and response to a violence against humanity.
About Project For Empty Space gallery
Project For Empty Space is a not-for-profit organization that creates socially engaging, multidisciplinary art exhibitions and programming that encourage social dialogue, education, and systemic change for cultural tolerance. This mission is achieved through a permanent project/gallery space, an incubator program for artists addressing social change, and through collaborative and interactive programs in vacant and neglected spaces in cities around the world.
We strongly believe that there is a symbiotic relationship between artists, communities, and social discourse. It is our goal to foster socially and politically inspired artists in an ongoing residency program; to curate thought-provoking and culturally relevant exhibitions; and to create exciting, engaging, and inclusionary community programs around art and social change.
Project For Empty Space is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are Tax Exempt to the fullest extent of the law.
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