Femininity Beyond Archetypes: Photography by Natalia Arias of Colombiahighlights themes closely connected with OAS values through AMA’s mission to promote social impact through the arts and the Inter-American Commission of Women’s (CIM) work towards gender equality and the participation and leadership of women.
“Femininity” is a social construction that has been defined and redefined by ideological discourses over time and from culture to culture. Colombian photographer Natalia Arias presents her own perspective on femininity, going beyond pre-established archetypes, challenging imposed generalizations, and emphasizing elements of feminine identity and empowerment rooted in both history and the female anatomy.
This exhibition features two of Arias’s series: Taboo (1999-2005) and Venus(2005-2010). Taboo exemplifies her departure from rigid discourses on femininity, where social values champion perfect physiques while religious ideologies dismiss the natural processes of women. The Venus series explores ways in which the notion of “Venus” has been interpreted throughout history. After the creation of the iconic goddess of love and beauty in Greco-Roman times, academics have identified “Venus” in a plethora of manifestations of femininity. Arias examines these long-standing ideas by reworking historical Venuses from those of ancient cultures to the present.
Arias questions traditional discussions on femininity in which natural processes are considered shameful or traumatic and beauty is based on a standardized formula. In response, her photography proposes a discourse on femininity that highlights the beauty of imperfection and the female body’s physicality, form, and physiology. Through her research, process, and execution, Arias seeks to empower women while at the same time challenging society to preserve perceptions such as delicacy, sensuality, and fertility.