The interpretative strategy selected for the analysis of Aliza Razell’s “Disappear” is based on the concepts of gender and gaze. As Kovács and Sári remark, these two aspects are closely related (x). Particularly, scholars note that the ideas of gaze are connected with the social constructions of “gender and gender relations” (Kovács and Sári x). The concepts of gaze and gender are manifested through the relationship between the subject pictured in the work of art and its viewer.
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The theory was established in feminism, the followers of which considered that men looked at women as the objects of sexual desire (“Women, Objects of Desire”). According to Kérchy, there exist “ready-made truths about static gender identities and sexual orientations” that can prevent the viewer from seeing the work of art under a unique angle (63). Thus, the selected strategy is suitable for addressing Razell’s “Disappear” since it can help to understand the image and analyze it from different perspectives.
The concept of gaze is commonly associated with the genre of female nudity. As Mathews observes, this genre was popularized in the early 16th century (416). In Razell’s image, there is no vivid expression of nudity. On the contrary, the woman in the photograph seems to be buttoning her gown, which indicates prudence. However, it is possible to assume that the picture still shows a “passive, eroticized, feminized object” for the “active masculine spectator” (Kérchy 63).
The cleavage shown in the image is likely to attract the viewer’s gaze and may be regarded as the implication of cultural, social, and psychological attitudes towards females (Mathews 417). However, it is necessary to pay attention to other aspects of Razell’s work except for nudity implications. Such elements as pieces of jewelry, hands, and the hair are also quite prominent and attractive. Although the focus is on the model’s face, all of the elements used by the artist are important for the creation of a finite impression.
The concept of gaze helps to understand the photograph from the male perspective but, at the same time, it allows enough space for analyzing different dimensions. In particular, the model’s diverting her eyes from the camera is also a representation of this theory. Because the woman in the image is not looking the viewer in the eye, there appears a sense of sinister aloofness about Razell’s work.
The concept of gender is associated with identity and symbolic gender roles (Von Braun 18). It is argued that some artists have a peculiar talent to present their handiwork as “clearly a woman’s” one (Schumacher 12). In the analysis of the creative works by Helen Frankenthaler, Schumacher notes that gender can be a “lens” through which the audiences contemplate artists’ work (12). Taking this opinion into consideration, it is possible to attribute a similar ability to Razell. In her image, there is so much tenderness and lyricism that one is convinced that it was created by a female. Freedman mentions that the analysis of artwork is largely dependent on interpretation (157). Still, there seems to be no mistake about noticing a woman’s hand in the creation of “Disappear.”
Razell’s “Disappear” is an impressive work that allows for the deep multi-dimensional analysis. The paper aimed at viewing the work with the help of concepts of gender and gaze. The analysis of the two ideas was offered along with their connection to “Disappear.” It has been established that the photograph created by Razell may be considered as the representation of psychological, cultural, and social attitudes towards women.
Freedman, Kerry. “Interpreting Gender and Visual Culture in Art Classrooms.” Studies in Art Education, vol. 35, no. 3, 1994, pp. 157-170.
Kérchy, Anna. “Queering the Gaze in the Museal Space: Orshi Drozdik’s Feminist (Post)Concept Art.” Space, Gender, and the Gaze in Literature and Art, edited by Ágnes Zsófia Kovács and László B. Sári, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017, pp. 63-84.
Kovács, Ágnes Zsófia, and László B. Sári. “Introduction.” Space, Gender, and the Gaze in Literature and Art, edited by Ágnes Zsófia Kovács and László B. Sári, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017, pp. x-xiii.
Mathews, Patricia. “Returning the Gaze: Diverse Representations of the Nude in the Art of Suzanne Valadon.” College Art Association, vol. 73, no. 3, 1991, pp. 415-430.
Schumacher, Bett. “The Woman Problem: Gender Displacement in the Art of Helen Frankenthaler.” Woman’s Art Journal, vol. 31, no. 2, 2010, pp. 12-21.
Von Braun, Christina. “Staged Authenticity: Femininity in Photography and Film.” Gaze Regimes: Film and Feminisms in Africa, edited by Jyoti Mistry and Antje Schuhmann, Wits University Press, 2015, pp. 18-32.
“Women, Objects of Desire Plagued by the Male Gaze.” Discussing and Debating Art, n.d. Web.