Body Poetics


18 February – 6 May 2023

GIANT presents Body Poetics, a group exhibition pairing nine feminist artists working at the advent of feminist theory in the 1970’s and 80’s with a contemporary artist from a younger generation. Curated by Marcelle Joseph and Becca Pelly-Fry.

Kiki Smith and Charlotte Edey
Louise Bourgeois and Holly Stevenson

Helen Chadwick and Rosie Gibbens
Judy Chicago and Ad Minoliti
Guerrilla Girls and Evan Ifekoya
Senga Nengudi and Enam Gbewonyo
Niki de Saint Phalle and Rae-Yen Song
Carolee Schneemann and Florence Peake
Penny Slinger and Tai Shani

Judith Butler wrote in Bodies That Matter (1993) that it is impossible to ‘consider the materiality of the body’ as bodies cannot be fixed ‘as simple objects of thought’. Instead, bodies are ‘a world beyond themselves’. ‘This movement beyond their own boundaries, a movement of boundary itself, appeared to be quite central to what bodies “are”.’ Much like poetry, bodies are constructed. Instead of words, bodies are constructed by society through relations of power. In this exhibition, the body is set in motion, much like the words of a poem. Where the words are placed and in what order changes the meaning, the feeling or the aesthetics of the words on the page. In this exhibition, gender performativity takes centre stage in a way that claims critical agency and is not bound by the structures of patriarchal society. 

Featuring a range of works made from the 1970’s to the present and across the mediums of painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, video, performance, textile and sound, Body Poetics is a feminist provocation across time and space that explores the outer limits of what a body can be, using the broadest sense of the word ‘feminist’ to include all female-identifying, non-binary and trans artists. 

“Kiki Smith and Charlotte Edey share many mediums in common across their artistic practices, working in drawing, printmaking, embroidery and tapestry to explore gendered subjectivity in relation to mortality, gender, race, sexuality, women’s rights and the politics of space. Both artists draw on myth, mysticism and folklore to create images of the sublime, rooted in lived experience.”

Work details:
Sorcerer’s Time
Soft pastel on paper in sapele frame
26x26cm framed

37cm x 35cm x 2.5cm per panel
Silk hand-embroidery and freshwater pearl on woven jacquard in yakisugi ash

Silk hand-embroidery and freshwater pearl on woven jacquard in walnut