OPENING 5 OCTOBER
5 — 8 PM
Sigmund Freud once wrote that “the public self is a conditioned construct of the inner psychological self.” What happens when the artist turns the camera towards her own body?
There is one body at present in Casia Bromberg’s Juicy Body. It crawls, flexes, and swirls, on tennis courts, in forests and in lakes. The sheer emotional presence of this body is a reminder of what it means to be alive. With the images being taken over 4 consecutive years, from 2014-2017, this series can be read as an archive of a specific body – the body of the artist. Roland Barthes suggested that with the withdrawal of rites and religion, death is now found elsewhere in society, “perhaps in this image that produces Death while trying to preserve life”. The click that separates the initial pose from the final print then becomes a ritual; It preserves a moment in time, while at the same time underscores the perishability of life. In such a vein, self-portraiture becomes a confrontation with one self’s mortality.
A photograph is an arranged image, yet our fascination with the medium stems from its indexical relationship to the real. But faced with the task of self-portraiture, where the artist and the subject are the same person, the act of taking a photograph (conceptualising, interpreting and representing), also involves a never-ending circle of self-regard and self-construction. To photograph oneself is to deal with the realisation that there is not just one self, but many selves; There is not just one body, but several.
Although, the images are representations of reality, they do more than reporting on the body in question. They point towards the differences between the artist’s notion of her own body, and the viewer’s idea of the female body as such. In so doing, an alternative and, perhaps more progressive, idea of the female body is formulated. A female body that dares to be active and passive, strong and vulnerable, humorous and beautiful.
The poses are carefully arranged and performed. Their utter construction is further emphasised by the presence of the shutter release cable in some of the photographs, twisting its way from the subject’s hand to the camera. In "Cherries" (2016) and "In the eye of the beholder" (2016), Bromberg wears a pink dress and poses on a pyramid of hay bales. In the former, she is looking right at the camera, holding the left hand in front of the face, so that it forms a shadowgraph on the skin. The viewer is left pondering on whether this innocent looking woman is measuring something, or deliberately distorting her features through the play of shadows. In the latter image, she has turned her back towards the camera. Now there is no more, and no less, than a bum that meets the eye of the beholder. With the subject echoing the shape of the surrounding hay balls, it’s a humorous take on classical signifiers of female fertility.
Knowingly comical (and sometimes primitive and animalistic) poses, runs like a thread throughout Juicy Body. Dressed in a somewhat absurd combination ensemble of a green bathing suit with a matching pair of wellington boots, Bromberg stands ready to sprint down a dewy heath. In another image, she is satsits on a narrow footbridge over a ditch, internalising a frog, so to speak. These are bodies unapologetic of their own physicality. And through such lower-stratum humour and exaggerated poses, a temporary escape from the authority and hierarchy and authority dynamics of mainstream society is obtainable.
All photography comes with specific discourses, which makes them instruments of ideological meanings. But as in Casia Bromberg’s other work, there is a balance between form and content in Juicy Body. Rational responses to the subject matter are offset by the pleasures in seeing. Perhaps that is what makes these bodily self-portraits so captivating.
Text by Johan Deurell.
Namn: Casia Bromberg - Juicy Body