Jessica Ballantyne Artist statement
This is an edited version of a 2010 artist statement. I thought it was rather passionate and wanted to share it!
My name is Jessica Ballantyne. I have a BA in Fine Arts from the university of Pretoria, South Africa. I immigrated to the UK in 2009 for three reasons
1.To join my immediate family who had already been living here for some time
2.To get away from the fear of violent crime in South Africa
3.To make my dream of being a successful artist come true
I became interested in the portrayal of women whilst writing a thesis on how women are portrayed by the Surrealists and the media. I always had a keen interest in surrealism and psychology at school and was somewhat obsessed with Dali from the age of 14 when I saw his work for the first time.
I remember wanting to steal the Dali library book so that I could look at the images everyday, all day without having to worry about the next person who wanted to take it out. I saw something new and fresh in the imagery every time I looked at it. I was fascinated with the grotesqueness of the sexual imagery and seemingly sick mind of the man.
Much of the work I have done in the past was purposefully rendered in such a way as to be overtly sexually intimidating and disturbing. The body became a site of sexual meaning with which I wanted to confront the viewer with signs of attraction and repulsion. The nudity and allure of the sexual poses are often contrasted with deformity and the “body impossible”. At the same time that the body is open to the viewer’s gaze, it is also turned away or blocked from the viewer, restricting their access to the more intimate body.
I wanted to give an impression of the body about to break free of its sexual or gender constraints.
A body that breaks almost violently with images of the traditional nude (that passive, succumbing sexuality), a body that reveals an animalistic side to humans, sexuality and how both are portrayed.
The work is a reaction to the objectification of women in art, media and pornography.
These images strip the female body of any sense of personality or experience. By omitting the head and arms in the work above (as the Surrealists often did)I am commenting on this process of removing presence from the female form.
In a world obsessed with sex and violence and where the female body represents commodity, desirability, pornography and ideology, I am interested in juxtaposing these with their counterparts; uniqueness, repulsion, nakedness and ugliness.