With her combined training in photography and social anthropology, Alinka Echeverría brings a critical approach to questions of visual representation to her work. Precession of the Feminine (2015), which is part of a larger series of works entitled Nicephora, was created while she was completing the BMW Residency at the Musée Nicéphore Niépce in France, a museum named after Nicéphore Niépce, the inventor of photography.
Inspired by Nicephore’s obsession with the fixation and reproduction of images, and referring to the intrinsic links between ceramics and photography, Echeverría fuses images of women from the archive of the museum with ceramic vases in three-dimensional simulations. The clean museological presentation of the ceramics suggests that they should be read as artifacts, yet their vibrantly coloured backdrops and warping, blown-up imagery implies otherwise. Using the form of the vase as a metaphor for the feminine, the artist playfully wills us to see the code or technique of each photograph beyond the image itself. In this way, the works subtly reveal how colonial and male gazes are intrinsically linked to photographic history and have been carried forward through largely invisible codes and techniques, thus becoming normalized and entering the collective (un)consciousness. As per Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message,” and in Precession of the Feminine, the vase is the vessel through which to reflect on this fragile construction of the female image.
By unpacking representations of femininity, Echeverría aims to present the precession of what has become essentially a simulation. The imagery she’s worked with is the result of belief systems that, according to Jean Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum, orbits the real on its own trajectories to eventually and inevitably intersect with it. With this in mind, Echeverría is quietly questioning and problematizing the perception of photography as a marker of truth, while also examining more broadly the way that codes and symbols of femininity are constructed and understood.
Presented in partnership by
Capture Photography Festival and TransLink