Eva Munday | Hand Study
The Artist's Statement
There are two narratives in every person’s life - an external narrative and an internal narrative.
Correspondingly, there are two constructs of self that deal with these veins of action: the external, or public self, and the internal, or private self. Through portraiture I am examining the ways in which we construct these versions of self and the ways in which they are influenced by external and internal narratives.
My photographic work is an exploration of how the world we live in shapes our definitions of self, and in turn how our understanding of this multifaceted identity informs the way we view the world. Within my work I strive to gain a better understanding of not only how the individual comprehends and expresses their selves visually, but how the visual language allows for a universal expression of human identity.
An exploration of form and medium, the ‘Hand Studies’ series disrupts the classical fine art canon by juxtaposing traditional and modern art practice. Each photographed hand re-articulates the gestures used in iconic Renaissance paintings of dignitaries, royalty, and religious figures, while the drawn overlay comes from physical manifestations of pain, want, and frustration.
The history of fine art is predominantly white and predominantly male. It is the story of an exclusionary world that turned status into visual commodity by way of portraiture. Most simply, the drawn hands represent the figures seemingly absent from this narrative. Almost translucent, the drawn portion of each image resists racial identification and exists within androgyny, acting as stand-in for the many identities selectively avoided by Renaissance portraiture.
Each work in the "Hand Studies" series begins with a reference to the fine art canon. The piece in this exhibition points directly to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, isolating the hand gesture belonging to God as he reaches out towards Adam, symbolically animating the first man. Here though, my hand replicates God's gesture and reaches towards nothingness. After shooting my hands in the studio, I draw directly over the inkjet print, creating another layer of subject matter that exists in harmony with and in direct contradiction to the photographed background. The drawn hands stand in for the figures routinely left out of art history - the disadvantaged, the less-than, the Other - that, for the most part, were left out of early portraiture altogether.
Her work has been featured in the exhibition ‘Woman as Warrior,’ at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, and as part of Eric van Hove’s exhibition ‘ATCHILIHTALLAH: On the Transformation of Things,’ at the Frankfurter Kunstverein.