Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Julie Rrap: Body Double

Julie Rrap Boat Tail (BT) (2004)
from the series Soft Targets
pure pigment prints on acid-free rag paper
image size 142.5 x 173cm paper size 152 x 173cm

Julie Rrap: Body Double
For over twenty-five years, the Sydney-based artist Julie Rrap has sought to disclose and unravel the ways in which the human body has been defined throughout western history and culture. She does so with a seductive wit, an outward display of pleasure, and a determination to match the gaze of her audiences.
Deeply based in the story of the body, Rrap’s art is always a surprise, resulting from an individual ingenuity that aligns with a feminist strategy to continuously seek and present the unpredictable and unanticipated.

Julie Rrap Overstepping (2001)
digital print 120 x 120 cm

Julie Rrap Yaw 2004
from the series Soft Targets
digital print 120 x 120 cm

This exhibition surveys Rrap’s work over three decades and focuses on three key themes in her work: the trickster, the body double and the ways in which her work represents the body as a fragmented entity.
Often playing the role of thief, vixen or mischievous impostor, Rrap has worked as a
kind of ‘trickster’, literally ‘occupying’ the work of some of western art’s most famous paintings or pop-cultural images. During the 1980s, artists such as Edvard Munch provided vehicles for Rrap’s exploration of the ways in which the female nude had been represented through the history of art, as in her 1984 series Persona and Shadow. ‘The historical paintings’, she explains, ‘were really stepping-off points for me to do a performance’. By mobilising these well-known images, Rrap unravels the  condition of woman as ‘other’ and this strategy has persisted in her work through to the A-R-MOUR series (2000).
Making the plaster casts for the series Monument
Location: Crawford Castings. Photograph: Jacky Redgate
Julie Rrap Monument (1995 - 1996)
fibreglass and bronze dust, camera and monitor
148 x 80 x 20cms

Throughout the 1990s until the present day, Rrap has used her own body in various
postures through shadow play, masquerade, mirror and mime. She performs as a ‘body
double’ for the still and moving camera.
Drawing on the notion that gender is in itself a performance, Rrap has forged the theme of the stand-in, a prosthetic body double, and her works often invite viewers to imagine themselves in such a role. This is evident in sculptural installations such as Vital Statistics(1997) and Hard Core/Soft Core (2006) through to the most recent work in this exhibition, Body Double (2007).

Julie Rrap Puberty 1984
from the series Persona and Shadow
cibachrome print approx. 194 x 105cm

Increasingly, Rrap represents a body in pieces, inevitably raising ethical and aesthetic issues in relation to how we depict, interpret and understand the human form. Such issues have been discussed both in broad social terms (for example in relation to the Abu Ghraib
photographs or in connection with genetic engineering), as well as in the field of art. For
Rrap, the body and its representation is porous, excessive and oozing with a sense of tease
and trickery. In works such as Hairline Crack (1992), Porous Bodies (1999) and Overstepping (2001), this body oversteps the margins of comfort, taking us into the zone of transgression. It is, however, always in the company of a foil that more often than not,
allows us to laugh out loud with the artist.
Victoria Lynn, Guest Curator
Julie Rrap Conception 1984
from the series Persona and Shadow
cibachrome print approx. 194 x 105cm

Julie Rrap Body Rub 2 (2006)
archival print on watercolour paper
image size: 199 x 100 cm paper size: 210 x 110cm

all photographs Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne © the artist

further reading: Julie Rrap: Body Double Education Kit (pdf)

Julie Rrap: Body Double at MCA Sydney till 28 January 2008

via placeboKatz