The Drawers - Shauna Oddleifson  Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Narrative?

Shauna Oddleifson's little girl has no guilt. Nor does Shauna as she scratches onto an etching plate or onto the oil stick ground and produces the images of innocence gone awry. Art when it voices violence serves the function of informing as well as clearing the conscience, much like the role of the confessional. This is not to imply that Shauna has left in her wake a myriad of dead little girl-friends but she may nonetheless have helped to clear the cosmic unconsciousness of some of the repercussive strain caused by our collective sins. The little girl wants more than she can have (greed) and connives into position (avarice) so that she is able to kill (murder) to get (steal) what she wants. Then she walks away from her crimes with the same smile on her face that she had when she walked in. This detached perpetration of wrong-doings is paralleled in wars, politics, business and numerous social situations so that the metaphoric allusions are blaringly relevant.

The work raises questions on many levels. Psychologically, the little girl by killing a female (a rival in Freudian terms as is 'the mother' to every little girl) gains first place in the hierarchy and is then able command the attention of the male which leads to reproduction and hence the furthering of the species. Is this little girl that complex or is she simply mean? The competitive nature of mating with all of the trappings of beautification and wealth is cut to the quick with one foul swoop by Shauna Oddleifson's predatory female. There is a push off a slide, a knife in a belly, hair snipped or a tie to a tree as the little girl stands with a hammer in hand or digs the grave with a benign look of satisfaction. Is the gender pertinent? Since it's always a girl, it is. Does this say that women are wicked and conniving? The artist is a woman. She is simply using her own voice. This is where the simplicity lies and it is reinforced within the depiction a nave primitive drawing style.

The psychological clearing is through a 'safe' medium. It is better to draw the fantasy than act it out. It is also mentally healthy to observe. As observer, the reaction is not one of disgust, but a hearty, somewhat maniacal glee. The acts are absurd. This little girl is just too bad, too outrageous. Identification is through a comic reaction. These little art works of little girls doing naughty, bad, nasty things are fun.

Perhaps it is because of the innocence implied in the child-like rendering, the timorous scratches, that Shauna Oddleifson's little girls don't alienate but rather - they draw in. The viewer becomes complicit in the bad girl's world for they are given the idea for the nasty act and then watch as the naughty child carries it out. The aftermath is the crowning evil, however, for the act is rarely fulfilling. There is more often than not just sheer waste as the outcome. A visual parable of cupidity with an eerie echo in our times.
 

Copyright 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers