Slit: Heather Benjamin @ Underdogs Gallery, Lisbon
Underdogs Gallery is pleased to present Slit, a solo exhibition by American visual artist (and former Juxtapoz Projects resident) Heather Benjamin in Lisbon, Portugal. This small showcase presents a set of works created specifically for this context with recourse to pencil, gouache, and acrylic on paper.
“Slit is a tongue-in-cheek title. It refers to both the presence of female genitalia and how strongly I feel about continuing to represent it in my work as a way of normalising it, of deconstructing the stigma around female nudity and not always reducing it to porn/sexual content. It also refers to the fact that in this body of work the characters are scratching themselves – out of pleasure and rapture, or out of pain and disgust? Out of desire, or attempting to claw themselves out of their bodies? The title is just as much about duality as the works themselves.
"In my work, I excavate the female human experience. Issues of intimacy, sexuality, self-perception, and body image all surface repeatedly, and the anxieties that can erupt within women as a result of these matters take different forms through the diaristic lens of my own personal experiences. I am interested in working through my own emotions, trauma, and self-analysis, with the intention of simultaneously grasping at some universally relatable and shared emotions and experiences through the women I render. My work is autobiographical and intimate, simultaneously self- assured and crumbled. I seek to illustrate and explore the tundra of femininity, to give faces and bodies and narratives to the different facets of my womanhood.
"The avatars I use partially obscure this diaristic nature of my work. I refract my personal narrative through them, which is a method of protection while I explore the reality of sexual violence and oppression and shame placed on women’s bodies. These works are very much about duality, the complexity of womanhood. They are an illustration of a journey towards full ownership of one’s body." —Heather Benjamin