Julie Berkbuegler’s Liquid Gold at The Barn Light East
On Saturday, April 8th, 2017, ECA will present “Liquid Gold” – New work by Julie Berkbuegler, at The Barn Light East. She received her MFA from the University of Oregon in 2011, and her BFA from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 2004.
From the artist’s statement about the new work:
Breasts. Tits. Nipples. High Fashion’s fantasy. A working mother’s reality. With Liquid Gold, I bridge the gap to shed truth on this disparate dichotomy.
I am only able to express these ideas as an actual participant in each side of the paradox – through my younger years as a hyper-sexualized female living in New York City, to being a working mother of two children in Eugene, Oregon.
Since I first flipped through the pages of a V Magazine in 2001 I have been fascinated and captivated by these images – not for their aesthetic value, but incessantly questioning why they exist; what is their purpose? What do these images of the naked female form clad with High Fashion’s luxury garments and accessories represent? The questions resonate deeply with me and the images are a cornerstone of my work; endlessly collecting High Fashion magazines throughout the past 14 years.
Taking the breast from a sexual icon to a functional body part is something that makes our puritanical United States shudder. The breast produces all of the nutrients needed to sustain our children. And, ultimately, it is every mother’s natural birthright to breast feed their child. Unless, you are not in a privileged position to do so. While research is slim in terms of the average income of a woman who pumps breast milk, a 2016 Forbes article by Tara Haelle, reports that working women below the poverty line are, on high average, not able to pump for their children.
Liquid Gold ultimately exposes the false empowerment of the breast, of the female form, of motherhood. With this series, I want to express that ultimate truth, regardless of whether or not you want to see it.
On her source materials: “I borrow from existing images and objects, utilizing the language of femininity, sexuality, and collage to participate in the processes of postproduction art making. High-end fashion magazines, ornamental frames, and color choices based on the absurd names of fingernail polishes all find their way into my pieces; I deconstruct and manipulate those elements to construct new imagery and objects, at once calling attention to traditional ideals of beauty and to the abundance of female imagery present in contemporary culture.”
If, as in advertising and fashion, the female form is a canvas upon which we project our aspirations of style and perfection, then in Julie’s work, the female form is investigated as a permeable subject. The division between internal and external becomes irrelevant, and “beauty” and “sex” are put in quotations, thereby putting their nature in doubt. In her 2012 collage, “Leaf him at the alter 1” (below), the surface is subject to both damage and decoration. She opens up the figures with surgical precision through intricate patterning. She burns edges, and removes body parts, only to replace them with collaged elements of over-the-top jewelry, and nail polish named after sexual slang.
The inside and outside occupy the same space, reminding us that to objectify another person is intentionally dismiss who they are, in favor of what we see.
Saturday, April 8th, 6:30-9:30pm
The Barn Light East
545 E 8th Ave
Eugene, OR, 97401