Outset Israel supported the exhibition “Present Perfect” by the artists Maya Smira, that was exhibited at The Artists’ House, Tel Aviv and curated by Sharon Tuval. Maya Smira was the winner of the “Outset Award For The Video Greenhouse Artist”, for her work Borderline (2014) that was exhibited in the Video Greenhouse of Fresh Paint art fair in 2016, a prize that awarded her the production grant for this show.
“Present perfect” is a multi-channel video installation in which Smira documents women in their 30s, sitting silently facing the camera, attempting to fix their attention on it. There are no distractions from the subjects, who stand in the studio against a white background, filmed in close-up in a vertical format, as required by the “classical” portrait. Each woman is alone, facing the static gaze of the camera, cut off from the dizzying pace of life, in head-on confrontation with self, some from a place of seeking, while others reflect acceptance.
The exhibition addresses the struggles still remaining for women faced with the norms and conventions dictated by western historiography which is essentially masculine. The power relations existing in the encounter between the surveyor and the surveyed have an ontological social position. The thematic foundation of the exhibition is based on John Berger’s philosophy separating feminine and masculine social presence. The latter is external or material, dependent on the man’s promise of power which he exercises on others. The feminine is internal in its perception, defining itself in relation to the moral norms and conventions applicable to women. A woman always observes herself and examines her own image in relation to the social space defined by the man.
Numerous questions arise from this social experiment regarding the moral norms and conventions the photographic subjects address. Can the historiographic alternatives change the status of the women facing the camera? Does contemporary woman’s social status still feel threatened by the perceptual encounter between the observer and the subject? Has women’s liberation succeeded in abolishing the convention blaming Woman for the expulsion from Paradise?
Multidisciplinary artist Maya Smira engages primarily in time-based digital media. She divides her time between Israel and San Francisco, where she earned her MFA in New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute after receiving her BFA in Photography with distinction, from the Minshar School of Art, Tel Aviv.