10 – 25th November
Post Baby Belly (2015)
This work is a response to artist Nina Ross’ experiences telling people that she had a newborn baby. As soon as she mentioned it, people would take a (often not so subtle) look at her post baby belly. This happened so frequently it became obvious that they were commenting on her body through their body language.
The low-fi aesthetic is indicative of Nina’s restricted working conditions as a new mum of a 4-month-old baby. Nina gave up her studio before she gave birth and started working from home because she was physically and financially restricted. Once the baby arrived, Nina was limited to work from home because she was caring for her child. Pippa Milne has written a catalogue essay to accompany the work.
Post Baby Belly, 2015, HD video, 24 seconds, looped (no sound).
Nina is a photographer, video and performance artist with a strong
research lead practice whose work primarily explores language be it mother
tongue, foreign or patriarchal. Her videos speak to a wide audience,
relevant to current global issues, while giving a voice to the personal in
this broader experience. In 2013 Nina received a Master of Fine Art
(Research) first class honours from Monash University; her thesis received
the Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Master’s Thesis Excellence Award.
We do not always communicate with words. Sometimes words fail us and it’s more effective to convey our compassion, frustration or support through a glance, a touch, a frown. Other times, our nonverbal capacities betray us. We shrug when we wish we hadn’t, we grimace without intending to pass judgement. Or we look away (down) when we wish we kept our gaze steady. Here is a short loop. Five pairs of eyes. Four women, one man. Two shots of a belly, gently protruding through a hand-cut hole in a sheet of white paper. As not the looker but the looked upon, we read these glances not as slips of the tongue (which Freud would have us think were spoken by the subconscious) but slips of the gaze. It would be easy to rant if this was a case of male gazes slipping and sliding over the post-baby-body of a female. It might draw to mind Elizabeth Grosz’s position by which; “[t]here will always remain a kind of outsidedness or alienness of the experience and lived reality of each sex for the other.” (Grosz 1994, 207). Of course, these are not all masculine gazes—only one of the five appears male. It’s not sexual difference, or alienation from the experience that is being gestured to here, it’s almost the opposite: a sense of personal curiosity at a potentially shared experience. Or that curiosity might actually be fear, or comparison. Martha Meskimmon talks about the capacity of female artists to “make and remake meaning in particular social situations and aesthetic encounters.” (Meskimmon 2003, 3). For a self-portrait, an artist depicts themselves for their viewer. This is, perhaps, an inescapably female rethinking of a self-portrait as it takes the sensation of being looked over to shape the ‘self’ of the artist. Left undefined is the look that returns these shifting gazes.
2016 Pippa Milne Curator and writer
The artist would like to thank the following people for assistance with this project and exhibition: Heidi Holmes Seventh Gallery staff and volunteers Pippa Milne Aasmund Heimark The participants filmed