THE WOMEN OF THE BOOK

(Sep 2019 – March 2020, Nov 2020 – March 2021)


Preparation


Part one: Medium: Video collage. Coloured HD video1920 x 1080, sound 2 channels (stereo) 48.000 kHz, duration: 00:08:41.


Presented as a part of the final course work for the course Jews, Christians and Muslims in Europe led by Woolf Institute, Cambridge. Displayed online at my solo research exhibition Art as a Living Theology from 17th to 30th May 2021.


Link: https://youtu.be/W_FeTe8IKWQ


I collected video material from the meetings with three women. All three of them had an academic background, although in different stages. The Muslim woman from Oman was a first-year PhD student, the Christian woman from Hungary was a lecturer in the written stage of a PhD, and the Jewish woman from Israel was a lecturer already awarded her PhD. They all worked or studied in Cambridge, UK, at the time of the project preparation. Although the respective portions of the video material had different settings, some links connected them. First, the shared academic environment formed their lives at that time. Second, they all chose to dress in a manner reflecting their religious traditions. Third, they all worked on research and represented the female perception in academia, a field in which women are still underrepresented.


The video is divided into the following parts: introduction of each of the women (walking), the framework of the art project (books about video and theology and three religious traditions), personal religious representations (hand gestures, a table with sacred texts of the three religions), women's voices (talking and being silent), academic environment (university, library, home), studying and conducting research (turning pages), prayer (sacred texts, chapels and prayer rooms), commitment (religious clothes, marriage), female gaze (smiles), captions. The sound was of secondary importance. However, the "action music", starting in 4:49, was used to induce a feeling of "mission" and decisive behaviour in these women. Also, it made the video collage light and entertaining to keep viewers' attention.


Live performance


Part two: Medium: Dance performance with the projection of mixtures of video footages (coloured HD video1920 x 1080, duration: 00:31:38), and a sequence of a video collage (coloured HD video1920 x 1080, sound 2 channels (stereo) 48.000 kHz, duration: 00:31:29.


Link: https://youtu.be/9cJXCxwpMmg


The final project explored (both theoretically and practically) what influence faith has on the inner understanding of femininity and the vocation of being a woman of any Abrahamic religion and how this phenomenon affects the recognition of women's representation in contemporary society and religious practices. As this is a vast theme, it did not involve in-depth research but instead a framework to prepare a narrative for a visual representation.


The project was (re)made to reflect a significant aspect coming from the theoretical preparation of the research project – sharing religious experience from a female perspective, represented by the idea of mantling the female body. The final video sequences point to the female body and its visibility (or rather invisibility) within a religious context. The videos screened on the dancer illustrated the projections (and sometimes biases) people have about others. However, people are indeed representatives of their cultures and traditions and make them alive in the world they live in.


The theme of the mantling of a female body is closely linked to the theme of nudity. As a female artist working with religious women, I wanted to highlight that uncovering some body parts (face, hands, feet) belongs to nudity. However, it is usually not considered in this way. In contrast to the nudity revealing female intimate body parts, these can communicate through gestures and expressions according to the will of the person to whom they belong. Therefore, the power of using them for personal representation and communication stays strictly within the person's control.


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