Words by Charlotte Latham
Recent Royal College of Art graduate Mia Dudek’s two-man show with Alix Marie MDAM at London’s Roman Road is a meditation on the themes of sexuality and bodily disconnection. A continuation of the concepts that drive her practice, namely the alienation of the individual within the urban environment, this exhibition sees her questions solidified in the forms of photographs and concrete and silicone sculptures.
Milky bodies reach and penetrate the frames of the photographs, fragile skins threaded with barely visible blue veins. The figures are provocatively positioned and yet devoid of passion, as though turned to stone at the heights of pleasure. The automation of the acts, and their cold lack of intimacy are in turn reflected in the properties of the concrete sculpture The Body Recast III (2017) in the centre of the gallery. Textured like a skin, and alluringly punctured with holes, the concrete structure of The Body Recast is cold and hard, impenetrable except for circles cut like navigation tools through the surface.
Continuing the current dialogue about the female gaze and sex acts as initiated by artists such as Celia Hempton and Alba Hodsoll, Dudek’s works highlight the disconnection of the female sexual body within a contemporary setting. Hempton’s work ‘Chat Random’ (2014-ongoing) saw the artist painting participants in a chat room, normally used for the purposes of masturbation. By painting the interactions in one sitting as they played out on screen, the works highlight the strange distance and anonymity involved in sexual interactions via pornography and chat rooms. This same sense of alienation is achieved by Hodsoll through the highly abstracted acts of intimacy painted in her series ‘PoV,’ (shown at Cob Gallery in February 2017) the title of which is derived from a form of pornography in which the tale is told from the point of view of one participant.
Despite the problematic nature of photography in discussions on sexuality, the theme is addressed in Dudek’s work gently. Much like Hodsoll, Dudek breaks down the body into abstracted fragments, isolated limbs and penetrations. However, while Hodsoll’s paintings are explicit and daring in their recontextualisation of sex, Dudek’s instead traverse the topic with subtle poetic visual language, harnessing the properties of her urban materials.