hester scheurwater

The Netrherlands

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The tension between what is happening inside my head and how I act on the outside is what my work is all about, the border between private and public. In trying to reach this frontier I make use of my own body and show series of fantasy self-images. These images frequently refer to the media’s ‘sexually charged’ depiction of women (in advertising, film, music video’s, lyrics, porn). Indoctrinated, obsessed and fascinated by this view of the “sensual seductive” woman as an object of lust, I try, almost obsessively, to comply with this image, by photographing self-portraits. These fantasy images are reminiscent of desires, fears, temptation, seduction, violence and sex. Self images as a sex object, but devoid of any commercial frills, made in my living room, bedroom, studio or bathroom, knowing I can never compete nor live up to the ‘commercial’ image, though revealing my own strength and my perspective on sexual freedom.

The mirrored self-images encompass my private fantasies. They are my way of reacting on the imitated and fake media images, which are constantly calling upon our imagination, without intending to be taken too seriously. I try to deconstruct this call’s effect with my reactions by switching the ’subject-object’ relationship, without being victimised by it. My self-images show I am not a victim of an imposed sexually charged visual culture, instead I give a self-aware answer, in which I try to show my feelings and/or views on the unreal and fake imagery, which is forced upon us daily. This series of photos emerged from a collection of daily uploads on Facebook and my personal blog. In the digital public space, I try to reinforce the exhibitionist nature by presenting them in the context of a living room or a living room setting. In this context exhibitionism and voyeurism come together. Using my own body as a sex object in corresponding poses and an auto-erotic gaze I study voyeurism and exhibitionism. Within a year, my daily photo series have grown from a modest Facebook project (using an iPhone) to a serious photo diary (using better technology). The photo diary now has more photos than I have uploaded to Facebook or my blog.

Biography Hester Scheurwater 1971

Hester Scheurwater (1971, H.I. Ambacht, The Netherlands) studied monumental art at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague. She participated in workshops with Frans Zwartjes and Nan Hoover. Scheurwater has made many video installations and experimental films that have been shown all over the world at festivals, museums (Brooklyn Museum New York) and galleries.

In various of her short films and videos, Scheurwater’s camera explores the relationships between human beings, and between humans and space, relationships that rarely flourish. The modern individual appears isolated from reality, unable to connect with herself or surroundings. Scheurwater’s films seek to express desires, fears and obsessions in an alarming manner. Scheurwater’s pictures show daydreams (fantasies/nightmares) which in a fragmented manner create a suggestive picture tale visible in which grotesque doll-like women show their incapacity to contact with the outside world. The woman shown as an object, isolated and sometimes absent thrown back to basic animal instincts “female behaviour”.

Carla Barger about Scheurwater’s short films distributed by Video Data Bank

In these shorts, the Dutch video artist Hester Scheurwater sets the camera, and thus the viewer, up as a voyeur of a violent and sterile world. In each piece, we are witness to a female figure who seems almost like a grotesque doll, and whose space is continually violated by the camera. Each piece contains a solitary woman whose face is obscured partially or entirely by her hair while her body is exposed. A certain brutality has taken place or is in process by the time we enter. Scheurwater’s women are devoid of voice, devoid of identity; devoid of clothing except for sexual costume–black lingerie and/or high heels, heavy makeup that looks more like bruises than beautification, and devoid of shelter from our continual gaze and exploration. This is a powerful and macabre exploration of disconnection and isolation, and of woman as object.

Carla Barger

March 2005 (vdb.org)