Nude Me/Under the Skin: The Awakening of Black Women’s Visibility one Pantyhose at a time, Part II, Christie’s Lates
Enam Gbewonyo performs, ‘Nude Me / Under the Skin: The Awakening of Black Women’s Visibility one Pantyhose at a time, Part II’, exclusively for the Christie’s Lates, Women in the Arts event held on Monday 8 July 2019. Inspired by works from the Christie’s Classic Week sale, Tired Danseuse by John William Godward and A sheet of hand studies for ‘The Mill’ by Sir Edward Coley Burn-Jones, Enam seamlessly incorporated subtle references through movement.
Director: Freddie Leyden
Tying to themes in her current body of work, the performance created a live artwork with used black tights spun web like around a vintage mirror frame. At one interval, the tights are manipulated by stitching to one another – a small ode to craft, and a dig at its label as women’s work and not being recognised as art. The captivating presentation enacted a funeral ceremony. It was a laying to rest of the discrimination, subjugation and invisibility black women face on a daily basis. No longer needing to find resourceful ways of coping such as wearing black tights where no nudes once existed, the tights are left on the mirror frame. The mirror frame represents the place where the black women feels most constricted, for the reflection much like the fairy tale never lied. No matter how often we looked in the mirror our skin remained our shades of brown and hair our varied forms of afro. Not once did we morph into the acceptable ‘feminine ideal’. White skin, blond hair, blue eyes, the ideal in fact that surrounds Enam as backdrop in the many portraits within the gallery, framing her as she performs. The black woman newly awakened through the process of healing enacted in Enam’s previous performance is now confident and assured in her skin. She sees herself and caters for her own, she knows her nude, her ideal and boldly breaks through the mirror, emerging to rightly take up her space. It is an emotional goodbye to an object that helped her survive, it’s worn used material bears the weight of her scars and pain. It was her shield and now she can lay that self to rest.
Images ©️ SMD Photography