The Beauty Myth 2021

The Beauty Myth / Yochi Shrem
Curator: Dana Gillerman 

In the exhibition "The Beauty Myth," Yochi Shrem holds a critical dialogue with iconic feminist-oriented artworks by contemporary female artists. She does that through knitting – a craft that was defined as inferior feminine art, done at home – and has become a distinct tool of contemporary feminist art. The women in the works she selected are empowered (Nicole Eisenman), powerful although shackled (Tamara de Lempicka), black venuses (Mickalene Thomas), and of course, the female body that undermines the beauty culture (Jenny Saville) or asks questions about the use of the female body in a consumer-oriented economy.

Feminism and the #MeToo movements have turned the female body into a battleground. Concentrating on visibility, the beauty culture, ownership, and possession in the multifaceted patriarchal oppression became part of the struggle for change. In a struggle, as usually happens, you gain a lot, but you also lose something. Courageously, Shrem uses works of female artists she admires to say something about what was lost, and she feels is missing; a kind of return to the naïve, non-critical gaze:- the possibility to feel beautiful and desirable, to devote yourself to the beauty myth without feeling guilty, to be courted without feeling the power balance. This wishful thinking clashes, of course, with the many accomplishments feminism has made, especially with the awareness that the culture we created has nothing natural in it. It is all a product of control, subjugation, and aggressive capitalism. One could say that this exhibition is an almost grotesque attempt to combine the contemporary, powerful femininity and its many achievements – which are evident in the list of artists and artworks Shrem references – and her longing to a time without awareness, when gender roles were defined as 'natural.' Part of the series' 'wink' is the wallpaper collages, whose source material is borrowed from the Instagram culture and design magazines; a reference to consumerism and the beauty culture and the appeal it creates in the viewer.