Who are Nashashibi/Skaer?
Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer work independently as artists and have been collaborating as Nashashibi/Skaer since 2005. Their work is made mostly using 16mm film and explores a range of contemporary concerns through art, artists, people and places that interest them. One of their films borrows the artist Paul Gauguin’s gaze on Polynesian women, while others reconsider works by Henri Matisse and Paul Nash, a museum in New York at night, and a diplomat’s residence in Hong Kong.
About the exhibition
This exhibition brings together Nashashibi/Skaer’s films with a selection of works they have chosen from the Tate collection and other sources. Each film becomes a starting point to explore key themes that resonate across the exhibition, from the portrayal of women and the representation of global cultures to the effects of war. By presenting the various works together, Nashashibi/Skaer reflect on how the power of objects and images changes over time. However, they also encourage you to find your own connections between the works on show.
Listen to the artists discuss their films, their collaborative process and the artworks they have selected for their exhibition at Tate St Ives.
On Paul Nash...
We were initially drawn to Flight of the Magnolia as a painting because it seems like it is already an event unfolding before your eyes. The cloud is morphing into a magnolia flower which also becomes a human ear. Nash, who had been a war artist in the First and Second World Wars, made a surrealism which drew from the experience of violence. We took that kind of vision that he had and tried to go with and unfold it into our own time. Our Magnolia is also Margaret Thatcher in our minds. The war is also the Gulf War. We have continued its language.
On Paul Gauguin...
We decided to go to Tahiti because we felt that the images in Gauguin’s work of women are the only images that we are aware of... of indigenous women from there... We really felt that it would be interesting with that very narrow viewpoint to go there and to see how that affects our way of looking. We didn’t set out to make a documentary at all. We don't consider [Why Are You Angry?] a documentary. We didn't set out to make a truthful or whole representation of women who live in Tahiti but we did set out to use those paintings as a starting point to explore our own viewpoint... how those images that we could make could exist alongside those paintings.
On the representation of women...
We know that woman's image has been exploited to such an extent that the body and face are rather overwritten culturally… That’s the case with the representation of humans but with women it becomes very extreme, that in a way you can't see the body without the cultural expectations and the idea of relating it to a model, whether that be a model of perfection, or a model of femininity, or motherhood, or a sexual model, or based on the fashion of the time. We had all of this in mind and we knew we couldn’t resolve this but we wanted to open up the questions and see… how certain obvious pitfalls could be sidestepped, tricked, avoided.
The woman is always turned away. An early title we had for the show was Second Husband. We are really interested in the idea of a position of experience, a way of looking through experience rather than youth or innocence. That is, a second look or a more considered look, a bittersweet look. In a way, these women are turning their backs… questioningly or ambivalently… it's a rejection of that total openness of the muse to the artist, it’s a sort of enclosure.
Nashashibi/Skaer: Thinking Through Other Artists is at Tate St Ives until 6 January 2019.