Monique Beebe makes a further return to Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, with a new exhibition entitled Changing Moods, a must-see exhibition, although part of it should be considered NSFW.
This is Moni’s third appearance at the gallery, and having covered her first two – Hidden Faces (see here for more) and Sensuality (see here for more), I confess to having been excited by the news of her return, as I’ve found her to be one of the most sensuous, evocative artist and – given she is generally the subject of her own work – models in Second Life.
The traits of sensuality, strength, vulnerability and expressive beauty seen in both Hidden Faces and Sensuality are clearly present in the 14 images presented within Changing Moods, which takes a different direction to the two prior exhibitions by presenting all of the photographs in monochrome. This is a particularly striking decision as it richly casts Moni’s work in a new light: black-and-white photography can often lead to bold images bereft of the greater softening afforded by the blending of multiples hues and tones common in colour photography; it also tends to draw the eyes into the central figure(s) within a tableau.
This is very much the case with many of the images Moni present here. But while perhaps appearing more hard-edged than might have been the case had they been produced in colour, the monochrome presentation also serves to heighten the beauty within each piece and – to my eye – induces more of a feeling that we are witnessing Moni’s inner perspective of herself, as shaped by her moods and desires – some of which might be considered leaning towards the erotic.
Narrative is another powerful factor within Moni’s photography, and this is also brought to the fore within the pieces offered in this exhibition. Take for example Robotoca, Almost Real, and The Mask We All Wear. All offer up ideas of identity, place and self-image in an increasingly technological world where the demands to reveal all perhaps causes us to react with a greater desire to hide, while the pressure to conform evokes the need to be strikingly different.
Moods and desire as also powerfully incorporated into these works in a variety of ways, from the direct – as with Captured, with its strong portrayal of erotic desire -, through the almost wistful subtext contained within Innocent, The Look and (to a degree) Wet.
There is also something else within these images which is salient for the times in which we live. It is an over-arching narrative that collectively runs through all of them and which, in so doing, completely alters the perspective they present. This is entirely intentional on Moni’s part, as Dido explains in the liner notes accompanying the exhibition:
Moni presents work that shows how her ‘Doll’ is created. She uses artificial arms, legs and face to illustrate this process. Moni gets the impression in SL women are often treated like Dolls; pampered, loved and dumped after usage.
When viewed with this in mind, the context of the images presented in Changing Moods is dramatically altered. We are no longer in the mindspace of personal thoughts, moods, and desires, but have stepped into that questionable space of how – as Dido notes – women can so often be regarded and treated as objects. Thus is the subtext present within the images dramatically shifted. Take the way in which Captured, for example, moves from being a sensually secretive desire within the mind of the subject to become a darker voyeuristic (and subjegative) desire to see a woman so helpless on the part of an observer.
Evocative, provocative, challenging and captivating is another stunning exhibition of photography by an exceptionally talented artist, Changing Moods is open through until the end of October 2018, and one not to be missed.
- Nitroglobus Roof Gallery (Sunshine Homestead, rated: Moderate)