The space of the city, the space of art. Brimming with well-known schemes, the already-created paths, people and life. Where does the female figure find her place in this scenery? Izabella Gustowska raises this question in her latest exhibition titled “New York and a girl” held at Art Stations Gallery in Poznań. The protagonist of a multi-layered story is Josephine Hopper, the forgotten artist, wife and model of Edward Hopper, the American painter. Josephine’s perspective becomes a filter – it is the axis of the narrative filled with various types of women, their fascinations and memories, interspersed with the ones of the artist herself.
New York, the city where Josephine and Edward Hopper lived and worked, forms the setting of the story. In 2013, Gustowska also experienced life in the aesthetic metropolis when she rented a studio in Westbeth, a famous housing complex providing living and working space for artists and artistic organizations. During her stay in New York, she was searching for the contemporary Josephine H., making portraits of city women, immersing herself in, as she says, “the already-made images”. The material she gathered was transformed into a monumental video-installation "The Case of Josephine H..." (the work also exists as a film that will be shown during the exhibition)
The second complementary part of the exhibition is the artist’s video diary recorded while she was working on the project. It consists of words and images – said, shot and quoted by the artist. Into her work Gustowska not only introduces the works of women artists who influenced her, e.g., Eva Rubinstein’s photograph showing Diane Arbus in Westbeth (1971), but also objects (a hat brought from New York City, Gail Levin’s biography of Edward Hopper) and virtual but real stories intertwined with figures of numerous, inspiring female artists (e.g.: Sylvia Plath, Diane Arbus, Ada Karczmarczyk – one of Gustowska’s students, Gail Levin, Judy Chicago, the author of The Dinner Party - the canonical work of the feminist art, and Ada – the model for Alex Katz’s paintings).
The exhibition at the three-floor gallery has been officially opened by the artist’s manifesto. Gustowska, equipped with goggles of virtual reality, expressed her own definition of it. Virtual reality is not the world created by designers and engineers. Our imagination and memory are perfect tools for creating and interpreting reality. Virtual dynamics interfuses truth and fiction, memory and forgetting, reality and imagination.
While searching for Josephine H. Gustowska is searching for herself. The artist asks about the role of a woman not only in the world of art, but in the world in general. Can a woman fulfill her aspirations? Can she play the role she has written for herself?
The exhibition closes on February 7th. On Friday, January 15th, the screening of "The Case of Josephine H..." will take place at the gallery with a discussion afterwards led by Agata Jakubowska, the curator of the exhibition.
Listen to what the artist herself has to say about the exhibition: Searching for Josephine Hopper