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Femme Fatale: Deconstructing the Politics of Sexuality Image

Femme Fatale: Deconstructing the Politics of Sexuality

Female Artists' Exhibition and Workshop, supported by The Ford Foundation

Femme-fatale is a term that has been used extensively as a stereotypical representation of women in literature, cinema, and the visual arts throughout history. In its popular incarnation, female identity is articulated through her role as an over sexualised, seductive, and scheming predator who uses her erotic charms to manipulate the opposite sex, literally translated from French as “deadly woman”. 

As this figure has traditionally been viewed as the pigeon-holing of a woman’s role predicated on her sexuality, it has been argued that such a limiting characterization stigmatizes the freedom and equality of women in an overly-saturated media environment. At the same time, others have argued that through this overbearing yet archetypal depiction of female identity, the femme fatale role has given women a sense of agency in a world that is predominately defined by patriarchal hierarchies, playing predator rather than victim (perhaps more so in Africa with its widening social and economic inequalities). This exhibition takes as its starting point the controversial place of the femme fatale figure in cultural discourse, exploring how female artists variously interpret its predicament and negotiate both its power, limitations, and all the grey areas in between.

The concept opens the floor to topics including feminism and its aftermath, relationships, promiscuity, masochism, tradition, superstition, witchcraft, misogyny, philogyny, sexual harassment, career opportunities, advertising, media representation, and cultural stereotypes. 

As part of an annual series of AAF’s Female Artists’ Platform, which aims to call to attention the vital yet undervalued role of female artists in the Nigerian contemporary arts community, this exhibition will explore how female identity is constructed, articulated, and vehemently asserted in both the contexts of Nigerian society and a broader global paradigm. Work in all art genres were considered including, but not limited to: photography, painting, sculpture, mixed media, film, installation, textiles and graphic art. Selected proposals received a budget to assist in production. The artists were also asked to mentor a secondary school-aged girl of their choice and work with her to produce a work for the grand finale.

Exhibiting Artists
Tyna Adebowale, Jenevieve Aken, Karimah Ashadu, Elisa Bortolussi, Shannon Lawrence,  ROF (duo Carmen and Selina Sutherland), Sesu Tilley-Gyado, Omoligho Udenta 

Essay written by Tari Sikoki

Exhibition Dates:

9 - 15 May, 2014


9 May 2014

Banana Island Ten 105 Close, Ikoyi, Lagos


10:00 - 17:00