epoch, stage, shell
In epoch, stage, shell, New York-based artist Kim Hoeckele confronts viewers with her nude body as it echoes distinct moments that have shaped the Western art historical canon and notions of Western beauty. Here, she proposes a messier standard of beauty: one that is mixed, eroded, and patched together. Co-opting the display mechanism of billboards, Hoeckele’s photomontages challenge viewers to consider the psychological violence caused by the idealization of women’s bodies both past and present.
Hoeckele’s photographic practice decodes theories and methodologies of representation from the past in order to better understand the present and in turn, the future. Her process involves meticulous research combined with material experimentation where the image points to influences far beyond the frame. Operating at the intersection of art history and advertising, epoch, stage, shell functions as a form of visual archeology bringing together numerous, seemingly disparate references and flattening them into fused images. While Hoeckele’s body occupies the majority each frame, in a single photograph her inspirations include a 7th-century Egyptian Block statue, Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde (1866), Joan Miró’s The Birth of the World (1925), and the 17th-century alchemical symbol that represents the interplay of the four elements of matter, “The Squared Circle.” In another image, Hoeckele addresses surrealist photographer Man Ray whose Ingres’s Violin (1924) takes Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s Grande Odalisque (1814) as a point of inspiration for his armless, objectified female subject.
Hoeckele’s photographs don’t simply re-present and remix art history, they also offer a sharp critique. Many of the references used as visual building blocks in Hoeckele’s studio were originally conceived of by white men who have used women’s bodies in depreciative ways, and their impact can still be felt and seen today. Advertising perpetuates these same issues and creates impossible standards of beauty. Hoeckele argues that despite what people may think regarding feminist progress in these spaces, problematic strategies of representation continue to repeat themselves and are still covertly embedded in visual culture. Her works redirect viewers to the ulterior influences foundational to the visual language of advertising—a significant agent in generating social norms. Hoeckele’s images subvert this powerful and highly public context with photographs that have been spliced, fragmented, layered, and flattened into consolidated planes, introducing a necessary complication that exposes a singular truth: one image inherently possesses a multitude of others.
Curated by Benjamin Freedman
Supported by PATTISON Outdoor Advertising