Peering through a gallery window at lingerie hanging from the ceiling made me feel like a voyeur.
Catching a glimpse of Papillion while closed was probably the best way to experience their latest exhibit by Zoë Buckman called Every Curve. In this body of work the artist explores the polarities between feminism and hip hop and the cultural dynamics of both existing within the same space.
Throughout the gallery bras, robes, corsets, garters and stockings descend into view from the ceiling bearing woven lyrics of songs by Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls embroidered onto the garments.
Commercial hip hop in the 90’s ushered in a video vixen era that celebrated an increasing level of misogyny in music that has undermined the industry to this day. Juxtaposed with the problematic lyrics, Buckman counterbalances the sexist narrative with positive affirmations of femininity by the same artists. The hanging garments invite the viewer to pass through them, beckoning them to take in the visual spectacle and the messages whispered amongst the billowing satin, lace and chiffon. After being exposed, the viewer is then left with the shame of confronting the meaning behind them. Buckman’s choice of lingerie subtly reminds us that misogyny did not start with hip hop; the use of vintage garments places the work in a historical and cultural context.
Every Curve on view at Papillion until April 30.