Girls, Girls, Girls
4 November 2017 – 18 March 2018
Julia Peirone is one of the most interesting Nordic artists today. Since her debut at the turn of the century 2000, Peirone has explored identity and the photographic image, often with a focus on young women, in series that mirror aspects of vulnerability, shame and sexuality connected to childhood and the transition to adulthood.
Above all, Julia Peirone is interested in how reality exists through the image and how we encounter ourselves in images. She poses questions about what a photographic image can be and what it can do, what its strengths and limitations are. In an age that is heavily influenced by social media and a visual culture that not seldom is used to create identity and shape the person one wants to be, the uncontrollable and vulnerable become important themes. And the gap between the world and our thoughts about the world.
It is a great honour for the Gothenburg Museum of Art to present Julia Peirone’s first major museum exhibition comprising around one hundred works, both newly produced works and loans from private collections, in the media of photography, video and sculpture, among others.
As part of the process of increasing the knowledge about artists who are represented in the museum’s collection, the exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue.
Top image: Julia Peirone, Golden Sunset (detail), 2016
“The Girl” as a theme
For almost twenty years, Julia Peirone has worked with the theme of “the girl”, from the outset depicted by drawing a contour on old postcards with a white pen. Sometimes, the contours of two figures emerge, indicating early self-portraits. In the beginning, “the girl” signaled being an outsider, but over time this has evolved into contexts in which she increasingly controls given situations. This can be understood as a way of problematising norms and preconceptions about the roles of girls in society.
Today, we meet a well-established artistic oeuvre that poses questions about what a photographic image can be and what it can do, what its strengths and limitations are. Above all, Julia Peirone is interested in how reality exists through the image and how we encounter ourselves in images.
Investigating norms, mental states and imagery
In several respects, the work of Julia Peirone has a proximity to the moving image. In her photographic series, she often works with the casting situation and preparations, in which retakes, fleeting moments and failures are given a prominent position. They can hardly be defined as portraits in the conventional sense; rather, they investigate mental states and visual conventions in conjunction with social norms that reflect the demands of the external world.
Challenging the relationship between the viewer and the viewed
Many of Julia Peirone’s images have a common denominator in that they explore the relationship between the photographer and the model, as well as between the viewer and the viewed. The viewer seldom meets the gaze of person in the portrait. Often, the model has her eyes shut, or faces another direction; alternatively, the face is hidden behind a swathe of hair, such as in More than Violet (2010-2012). However, the skin is exposed, an aspect that is reinforced by the clothes that the girls wear: tight tank-tops, and short skirts or shorts.
The way in which the motifs appear in Peirone’s works challenges the relationship between subject and object. At the same time, Julia Peirone stresses that “the girls in my pictures are victims of a gaze, but they are also strong and have power over your gaze”. It is also crucial for the interpretation of the image whether the photographer is a man or a woman.
The exhibition is produced by the Gothenburg Museum of Art in collaboration with the artist’s gallery, Belenius, and private lenders. After the première at the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the exhibition continues to the Kalmar Museum of Art.