I was over the moon to have my own exhibit for the Kinsale Arts Weekend this year. The opportunity to exhibit in my own space in my hometown was an incredible experience. With only short notice that I had the whole space to fill with my work, it was daunting but also incredibly exciting. I also took a slightly new direction and displayed some of my writing that I've never had the courage to make public. Including text adds a complexity which has taken me quite some time to figure out. To go from purely visual to textual is definitely a learning process. In saying this, I feel that it worked well and I had some amazing feedback that will benefit me greatly as an emerging artist.
I was lucky enough to meet some really interesting people and other visual artists and gain some interesting insights. I also have to thank my amazing friends and family for helping me clean up the space and also help me with install. And also a thank you to Fintan Lynch who was adamant about me getting my own space to exhibit, I couldn't ask for better support.
Absence by Chloe Austin is a collection of photographic and video works from 2016 to present. Austin is a lens-based artist originally from Kinsale and graduated from Crawford College of Art and Design in 2017. Following this, she has been involved in numerous art exhibitions and organisations. The artists interests spark from recent situations, accusations, allegations and statements that force us to reconsider many things, but above all, the place of treatment and regard of women.
Women's sexuality has often been portrayed as something scary, uncomfortable and threatening. We are constantly reminded that women are widely represented as passive objects for pleasure, available for use or disposal. Women have been long portrayed as monstrous in literature and film, often due to their stepping out of the rules that society had placed us into and transgressing into the boundaries of the male sphere. Those who broke these rigid boundaries of their category of existence was transgressing into areas that didn't constitute what a woman was thought to be and disrupted the way which society was ordered. This led women to be viewed as monstrous and unnatural. The monstrous feminine clearly manifests itself in literature in the past, as women have long been understood as inferior patriarchal systems. Yet, as modern society would like to think it has overcome these injustices, they are still being reflected in contemporary literature, film and society.
The work questions broader concepts of the self, gender, body, image and identity. The feminist battle is continuously portraying our bodies as a site where issues are raised, debated and ignored. Difficulties that exist with being a woman, have their roots in identification and desire, resulting in the violent dismantling of the self. Austin never reveals the whole figure; faces and bodies are blurred, fragmented or masked. The result is a powerful interchange between observation, self-display and mystery. Her image is both object and subject, present and absent.