Hi everyone! I apologize for the lack of posts this week. I’ve been studying for my midterms, and my brain has only had space for food, the sixty paintings on my impressionism exam, and food. I was thinking about doing a post ABOUT impressionism, but most of the pictures on google are not in the public domain (I am not trying to get sued).
Without further ado, I present another fantastic work from the National Gallery of Bermuda: Antoine’s Hunt’s “Pickled 2.” The medium is toned and tinted cyanotype on paper.
With this work we have the delightful task of interpreting Hunt’s work without being given much explanation. The accompanying blurb only lists where Hunt’s work is currently being shown. The one clue we are given reads, “His practice is often a response to the physical and emotional limitations or inspirations of being in Bermuda.”
What can we make of this enigmatic work and the elusive accompanying description? We are confronted with a nude female figure inside of a jar, much like a pickle jar as the title suggests. Her body is mostly in shadow. Given the 3/4 angle of the figure’s body, her face should be visible. However, it disappears into the expanse of white. She is not represented beyond her hairline. This suggests a kind of loss of individuality and independence, as the face is a key identifier of who a person is. The removal of her face also shifts focus to her body, drawing attention to her gender. The female looks down and hunches her shoulders. She is clearly uncomfortable under the gaze of the viewer. We, the viewers, feel equally uncomfortable, because we feel as if we are invading her privacy. Furthermore, the position we are projected into is that of an appraising voyeur. She cowers under the possibility that we are evaluating her.
We can also not forget the fact that she is standing inside a clear jar, which functions to trap her while simultaneously keeping her on display. Her slouched position suggests that she is resigned to this position of exposure. There is no point trying to escape from her glass cage.
We can take this interpretation one step further by referring back to the one sentence hint given in the accompanying blurb. Hunt is inspired by the limitations of living in Bermuda and the inspirations of living there. Perhaps he is equating this jar to the seclusion of island-living. He could feel trapped and exposed in his home. Or maybe it has nothing to do with Hunt himself, but rather his observations of sexism in society. I prefer this idea, because of the strength of the metaphor provided by the jar and the naked woman. It seems more likely that this is a commentary on female objectification than a representation of Hunt’s own claustrophobia. However, feel free to take either or neither of these stances!
I find “Pickled 2” mesmerizing. There is something incredibly eerie about the shadows on the figure’s body and the vast emptiness that spills from the background onto her form. I hope that you find it intriguing as well!
xoxo, Chloe <3