Noh Jungha and the Feminine Identity

4 Jul

Noh Jungha’s current exhibition at the Sungkok Art Museum titled “보이지 앟는 것에 묻다” (To Rest at Places One Can’t See)  addresses several themes, one being the concept of the feminine identity. In this particular series of photographs titled “Love feast series”  Noh uses herself as the model of her photographs. However, she does not portray her real self but rather poses as someone else who portrays and idea. Her work in this way is similar to the artist Cindy Sherman who uses herself as the model in all her photographs but uses makeup and costumes to alter her identity. But while Sherman explores the construction of contemporary identity through inspiration from images in the media, Noh addresses and questions the meaning and the context of the female identity.

I believe the art lies in the way in which Noh presents these identities in reference to classicism and its portrayal of the grand, royal court society in which women are the objects of the spectator-viewer. For example the first photo features a woman taking off her gloves while gazing at the viewer. Like many of the classical paintings featuring women, Noh’s work references the viewer as the (male) spectator-voyeur through the direct, acknowledging gaze in a rather private and isolated setting. Is the female subject still an considered an object of desire in today’s art or has she broken away from the confining and defining constructs of society? Perhaps Noh is not only questioning what it means to be feminine but also addressing women in the eyes of patriarchal society and critiquing/questioning the role of women in traditional art.

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