Thursday, August 18, 2011

pink; rash room

Blind Rash - Shooting Blanks: 30"x38" Lambda Photograph 2008

Gina Osterloh is an American/Fillipino living and working in Los Angeles. Her practice melds together performance, photography and sculpture. This series of works I'm featuring was created for an exhibition in Manilla called Shooting Blanks in 2008. Appearing as if giant diaramas, Osterloh's work merges the individual and their environment, in an attempt to bond together psycholocial and physical space. 

The women in these works has their eyes and mouth covered and stuffed with the same pink paper that makes up the background. By placing patches on her eyes, and stuffing pink paper in her mouth, she cuts off our access and communication as a viewer into her world. Our instant reaction to seeing someone is to look into their eyes, but Osterloh blocks this access and so we are confronted with where to look, where to place our focus. Without a focal point, our eyes meander around the figure and into her environment to question what it means to be an individual in a space that has become part of the individual; or be it the other way around. The boundary of individual and environment is broken and blurred as a result. 

The figure becomes devoid of identity. This may have been a direct reflection of how she felt being a foreigner in Manilla,  potentially feeling disassociated from her new environment, where she was sent through a scholarship program to participate in the exhibition and undertake research. Most of us have felt this way. We sometimes feel it walking into a party where we only know the host/ess and  especially when travelling. I know this feeling very well, having been in a transitional space for nearly two years now. A connection to environament is a very important part of being human. As our environment changes, so do we. These works reflect on the sense of loss that is felt when we remove ourselves from our familiar space and try to relate to a new one, with a new sense of identity and connection.

The images below continue the series. Empty (Rash Room) is the most chilling of all. After experiencing the photographs with a figure within, we are confronted with a 'padded cell' environment void of any human existence, questioning what happened to that woman who allowed us to attempt to connect with her, even though there is distance between us and her with her covered eyes. We can still relate to a figure who is slumped, exhausted by her environment, but once she is removed, we are left with only our feeling and a further disconnectedness to the environment.

Empty (Rash Room) - Shooting Blanks: 30"x38" Lambda Photograph 2008

Mute Rash - Shooting Blanks: 30"x38" Lambda Photograph 2008

Gina Osterloh has a large-scale performance commision at LACE in Summer 2012. Check out the details of this upcoming interactive performance here.

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