L i b e r t é P o u r T o u s
Art Space Witzenhausen Amsterdam
Risk 100 x 80 cm.
Risk Hazekamp is an artist from The Hague who works primarily with photography and video. In her work, the language of Hollywood is directly engaged. Often the works take the issue of gender by the horns, quite literally in some cases since the images of "the West", cowboys and all the baggage that they carry in terms of gender and media constructions of gender, are prevalent.
In works that use the figure, disturbingly familiar clothing and landscape to deconstruct -or perhaps reconstruct- the idealised images of maleness and femaleness, Risk's work often exists in a state of ambivalent "femanliness". Is she seeking to attain the perfect image of a lesbian Marlboro woman with tinges of a female James Dean? Or is she asking us to think about how Hollywood manipulates us? And does the bullfighter imagery challenge the sexist swagger of Hemingway or reflect a blatant admiration? Sometimes it is difficult to tell and perhaps one does not need to since therein lies the power of the work to arrest.
In more recent works, the issue of gender and personal identity is tackled even more directly as bearded androgens -she has moved into using models in addition to casting herself in her work- populate portraiture, video and what appear to be stills from films. Interestingly enough, whereas the earlier work that uses the language of Hollywood and Risk's apparent (and perhaps desired) resemblance to a young James Dean, the new works have a strong European cinema feeling to them. "Giant" (2002) pulls no punches in referencing a mainstream Hollywood classic whereas "Liberte Pour Tous" (2005) could be a still from a cult French film that never got made.
It is not necessarily pedantic to insist that these works are much more about the relationship between personal identity and gender than about sexual identity. Of course, sexuality is a key aspect of personal identity. However, whereas artists like Della Grace Volcano have trod similar ground in terms of content, these works do not shock and amaze because of what someone might do with her body, but far more who she might "be" deep within herself.
Ken Pratt, July 2006
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