A projected video work, performed by Karen Douglas, camera and direction, Pam Skelton, 1997
Duration 8 min 55 secs.
ExerMedea is a video installation, which refuses to be positioned. It stands as a kind of contemporary myth of empowerment without a narrative. It is not about exercise although it uses images of the face and upper body of a woman exercising. It is not about the sorceress Medea although she is implicated in the work. Rather, ExerMedea is an experience of looking, imagining and repositioning self. There is an undoing or a remaking of gender norms, a display of watching, of being watched, a transformation and merging of identities. The woman is beautiful, she is handsome, she is powerful, she regards the camera and implicates the viewer as she enacts and repeats her movements. By investing the body with more oxygen energy is created and with it powerful identities are unleashed in an alchemical process of transformation which comes to stand as metaphors for invention.
ExerMedea suggests a revolution of becoming, where the image of women is no longer one of lack.
“The face of a woman exercising, or fighting, or looking at herself through the mirror of the camera. She knows she is there. She thinks she invents herself. She is sensual and resplendent. But the camera focuses on the fragment. The viewer can take her time. The fragment fills vision in slow motion. The image disallows aggression. It is pornographic. The image is not pornographic. The body is given by the metonymy of the face until the last instance the body is assumed. It is produced as the viewer tries to decipher what it is actually that he sees, if something has in fact been offered to her. The image framed by the camera has boundaries, but the body exceeds them. The viewer exceeds those boundaries as well. ExerMedea is an interface of boundaries.”
Extract by Angela Dimitrakaki