Social Portrait - Women Only, 2017
Performance, Paper, Pencil, 2 chairs
The history of art is the history of power. Portraits are traditionally made of people with a significant power status in the social hierarchy. Examining the history of power reveals to us that the power has very masculine features. This is why I draw portraits of women only. My project respects everyone’s right to self-identification which is why I have drawn all kinds of women from ones with a beard to ones who have told me to be trans. The drawing takes the form of a long durational performance. I sit and draw portraits in art museums and galleries where women sit for me and also observe the drawing performance. Everywhere I’ve traveled so far working with portraiture drawing has taught me that an important part of the human experience is the need to be seen and heard. This is why when I draw, I don’t look at the paper at all but look intensely at the woman sitting in front of me. With this method I want to emphasize the act of making women seen and acknowledged. The context of the art museums and galleries plays an important role. By drawing women in the public space with the audience gathered around the performance we occupy the space and occupy the space in the context of art history. This way the performance also has a dialog with the history of art. I always draw two portraits of each participant and in the end the sitter has the freedom to choose another one of the portraits for herself. This is an important element in my project from the point of view of women’s authority, autonomy and agency. It is important for me that the sitter has the power to choose which portrait she likes best. During years 2017-2023 I have drawn over 900 women i.e. in Finland, United Kingdom, Norway, Spain, Italy, USA, France and Japan.