Torch Gallery is pleased to present Panorama, a retrospective show by Dutch artist Martin C. de Waal.
In a society that capitalizes on notions of identity, how is the individual to understand herself?
How is she to deal with the inevitable insecurities that emerge from the technologies of the self promoted by our consumer society? With his digital photographs, video works and performances, Amsterdam-based artist Martin C. de Waal diagnoses and reflects on this latent crisis of the self that in his work more specifically relates to issues of sexuality, gender and ethnicity.
In TORCH Gallery, from the 25th of February till the 1st of April 2006, Martin C. de Waal will exhibit portraits, video works and more recent photographs of panoramic vistas that set the individual against futuristic industrial backgrounds. Whether these formats enable to concentrate on the facial features of a single individual or to set her in a broader picture, the gaze is what ultimately prevails. Utterly conscious of themselves, the characters that appear in his digital compositions are simultaneously imbued in patrolling their own image and busy with capturing the viewer’s attention. They have stroke poses that mimic stereotypical attitudes propagated by the media and give in a masquerade that short circuits every attempt from the part of the viewer to identify with their hybrid nature. They pastiche fashion and design visions of social and sexual power, give in an ultimate game of gender subversion and disclose the constructed nature of culture and culture’s vision of nature. By first seducing us with carefully orchestrated compositions that most of times feature the surgically manipulated body of Martin himself, these works function as bad wires in the web of gaze that structure power relationships in contemporary society. Martin C. de Waal’s works embody a glamorous and self-mocking return of the repressed, altered visions of the same. By provoking these contradictory experiences and sensations, these beautifully monstrous beings’ engagement to this utopian project unexpectedly endears them to us. As Martin C. de Waal once said “the models are well aware that they are trying to portray a nonexistent self or world but they try nonetheless. And that’s why I love them.”
Catherine Somzé, Amsterdam 2006