Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Others

Jim Allen Abel
Singapore Artstage
January 23-24 2013

The Others is the last in a trilogy of works by Indonesian artist Jim Allen Abel. This trilogy Board of Generals, Uniform_Code and now The Others, investigates the use of clothing or uniforms as a method of control by those that are seen to be in authority. It also looks at how these methods are used to create systems of power, to manipulate perceptions and to a further extent disempower and intimidate. 

This new work The Others now places its gaze on the ‘uniform’ that is worn by many women in countries throughout the Middle East, Southeast Asia and now in Abel’s own country of Indonesia. It’s a response to this form of body wear that often fully conceals a woman from head to toe in black cloth, which the artist believes is an effective way of rendering women non-existant in society and removes any traces of individuality. The artist responded to this belief by placing the hair (which is thought to be a sexual stimulant) on the outside and then used colorful luxurious materials as a replacement for the black clothing. 
Abel has in effect responded directly by creating images of women that represent the polar opposite of disempowerment or control. Images that send a message that these women are now impossible to ignore—that they indeed exist and exist in a way that is hyper-real. From the luminescent fluro colored wigs that are matched with equally over the top colored capes these images are a humorous and mesmerizing train wreck made all the more powerful by the use of the multiple. 

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