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Body: Part II

Samantha Rosenwald, A Freudian Nightmare; An Onlooker Gasps

July 8 - August 2, 2020


Ballon Rouge is pleased to present Body, a series of solo exhibitions at our Club’s vitrine in Brussels, with work by Tessa Perutz (June 6 - July 5), Samantha Rosenwald (July 8 - August 2), and Murat Önen (August 5 - 30). The exhibitions will be on view 24/7 in our vitrine at 2 Place du Jardin aux Fleurs.


Initially, Body was a group exhibition set to open in June in Istanbul; a sexy summer show about the body, the gaze, and desire. 


Despite COVID’s destructive path, the concept has not changed - yet, inadvertently the relative meaning has changed very much. This series of exhibitions remains about the body and the gaze, but now desire is imparted with fear, and the body is not only sexual but clinical, and in the case of Samantha Rosenwald’s works, also psychological. 


Much of Samantha’s work addresses themes of the fetishization and commodification of the female and the female body. Freudian theories about sexuality are not only backwards in their assumptions about female desire and rage, but they imply that the female is ascribed meaning only in relation to her male counterpart. (Eve was created from Adam’s rib, Medusa was raped and killed as a punishment for her good looks and her power). Throughout the history of psychology, theory, politics, and mythology the female is seen as an unpredictable, manic, emotional puzzle in need of taming and regulation. Samantha’s work, A Freudian Nightmare, is a comedic interpretation of Freud’s own sexist theories which paint the female in such a horrifying and wanton light that they would haunt Freud’s own nightmares.


In the work she constructs the composition with a series of symbols that signify Freud’s theories on sexuality, all within the framework of his dream theory. Freud’s dream theory, in short, says that dreams are constructed visually of the fabric of everyday life and objects, but are filled with symbols and signs which signify subconscious desires or fears. Some of the symbols in the painting are: The Fig: the fig, sliced in half with a jammy knife is meant to signify castration anxiety - the fear men have that once a young woman sees a penis for the first time, she realizes her loss and becomes envious. This envy either drives her to want to become the phallus (symbol of power) or castrate the phallus. The Purse: the purse is a Freudian symbol for the vagina. He believes that when a woman is fondling her purse or putting her fingers in her purse mindlessly, she subconsciously is fantasizing about sex. The oddly shaped zipper that Samantha placed prominently on the purse was done as an allusion to the myth of the vagina dentata - the fear that during sex, the female’s genital teeth will castrate the male’s phallus. The Snake: The snake, a phallic symbol emerging from the metaphorical vagina further sexualizes the purse but adds a sinister and degenerate subtext to the sexual act. The Clorox: A household cleaning supply, Clorox symbolizes housework. And, based on his antiquated theories of and about women, it can easily be assumed that Freud would link housework and home objects to the role of the female. The chemicals within the cleaner and the potentially deadly effects it has on the body, allow for a dark second-reading to the common object. 


An Onlooker Gasps is a cartoonized and simple piece meant to act as the male counterpart to A Freudian Nightmare. The fictive onlooker sees the symbols of castration, vagina dentata, and poisonous female danger, and gasps in a ridiculous and idiotic way. This cartoon is a generic all man, a jest and foil to the oversimplified, sexist and biased reading of women for centuries, even now. It evokes man’s ignorance, power-thirst, and his tendency to enrage the female, and then act shocked and confused when she, in fact, is enraged by his behavior. In a parallel to the oversimplification of the female in Freudian psychology and beyond, Samantha has rendered Men as ridiculous, simple, stick figures compared to the complexity of Women.


Samantha Rosenwald (b. 1994, Los Angeles) received her BA in Art History from Vassar College in 2016 and her MFA in Fine Art from California College of the Arts in 2018. Rosenwald has shown with galleries such as Eve Leibe Gallery (London, UK), Zevitas Marcus (Los Angeles, CA), Plan X Gallery (Milan, Italy), and Mostyn (Wales, UK), and has been featured in publications such as New American Paintings, Art Maze Magazine, and Voyage LA. Rosenwald is based in LA and works primarily in paint and colored pencil. By threading together contemporary culture, visual pun, and the dogmas of art history, she creates absurd, personal, and darkly funny portraits which illustrate what it feels like to be alive.

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