Artist Feature: Giulia Vigna
Walking through the city, I see all of these beautiful statues of naked women and museums full of paintings of nude female bodies. These depictions are treated with respect and reverence. Why do you think these visions of female beauty are treated differently than the real-life, flesh and blood women walking the street?
I believe there is a tendency to sanctify and glorify the woman body only when it is in a controlled environment.
Why do you think female bodies (and partial nudity) are so much more prevalent in media today and in art history books, alike?
It used to be considered rule breaking to see even only the legs of a woman, but it soon became normal, and media to shock and consequently sell, started showing more.
Sexy almost naked women sell, and the point is they don't really work for men more than women.
Also images are now more available than ever, and women dominate the majority of visual based social media. They are told they are valued on their appearance and that appearance is competition.
How have perceptions of the female form have changed in the time between the contemporary images you use and the old sculptures you depict in your work?
Before painting and sculpture beauty was attributed to other virtues such as truth, loyalty, harmony. However, when artists began to paint or write, some features outlined some qualities that, if a person or an object had, they deserved to be called “beautiful.” The classically ideal body, as established in sculpture in Greece in the fifth century B.C., has been the most constantly copied style in all the arts, and this is the reason why I choose to work with images of statues from that era.
The ideal body of today, is more unobtainable than ever, with a mixture of filters, photoshop, plastic surgery, what women aspire to be is just not possible without some extra help.
Why do you only work with depictions of women?
Women’s bodies, particularly the female nude, have been used by male artists, and more recently female artists too, to make statements about art, beauty and ways of seeing the world. I am strongly interested in the objectification and, at the same time, sanctification, of women's body. To represent women's body artists used to base the figure on a marble sculpture rather than a live woman, seeking harmony and beauty rather than anatomical correctness.
This was the standard practice in artistic training. Drawing from live female models was not inappropriate for young, male art students. Classical sculptures from antiquity were thought to represent the best and most beautiful aspects of the female form, as determined by ancient artists and philosophers, and were preferable prototypes. I find very interesting the way that the female's body is elevated to a prototype and at the same time, in a different context is objectified.
Where do you find your imagery?
Mostly online, lately I've been very much attracted to what Nicholas Bourriaud defines as: Post production art, creating something new with something pre-existing, asking myself: what can we do with what there is already?
Can we see your workspace? Describe your process.
In the last few years I've been living in many different places and consequently my workspace has changed often. I prefer to work alone, and it is very important for me to create a safe space everywhere I am living to focus and work.
What do you want to achieve with this work? What questions do you hope to raise in the minds of the viewers?
I hope to raise the issue of objectification, and to highlight how different women are treated in different contests.In the western culture we have been used to see women body depicted as saints, and elevated to the level of a goddess, although in the everyday life women are objectified and not respected, I want to express this conflict.
Learn more about Giulia Vigna, here.