First I Have to Put My Face On at Foothold / Polignano a Mare

First I Have to Put My Face On curated by Christina Gigliotti

Organized and supported by Like a Little Disaster

June 10th – July 30th 2018

Participating Artists: Mariantoinetta Bagliato, Julia Colavita, Nicole Colombo, Jakub Choma, Adam Cruces, Barbora Fastrov√°, Monia Ben Hamouda, Pinar Marul, Valinia Svoronou, Sung Tieu

Via Cavour, 68
70044 Polignano A Mare 

Mariantoinetta Bagliato, Through, 2018, various dimensions, textile, stuffing

Barbora Fastrová, Blister, 2018, (detail) 
Monia Ben Hamouda, Holding Hands as a Cup (we found each other), 2018

Sung Tieu, White Perfect, 2017 

Valinia Svoronou, The Glow Part 2, Gravity Regimes, 2016 

Nicole Colombo, Untitled (Rose), 2018

Monia Ben Hamouda, Shark. Meat. Demand. Increases. , 2017    

Jakub Choma, Same Person, Different Me, 2018,  Set of 2 pieces

Pinar Marul, Untitled (Part I), 2018

Julia Colavita, New Flesh Miniature (sleeping), 2016

Pinar Marul, Untitled (Part II), 2018

Julia Colavita, New Flesh Totem (II), 2016

Julia Colavita, STS 1, 2017 

Julia Colavita, Skin Tone Series (KVI)

Julia Colavita, New Flesh Miniature (eyes), 2016 

Adam Cruces, Evening Breath, 2017

Nicole Colombo, Untitled (Violet), 2018 

The exhibition First I Have to Put My Face On originates from an interest in beauty labor and emotional labor, and how the combined efforts of this labor result in how many of us create our identities and present ourselves to society at large. The beauty industry is ubiquitous, and yet beauty labor remains largely invisible or purposefully hidden from those who do not partake in it, the age old phrase being “Don’t ever let them see you applying your lipstick.”[1] Where does beauty labor take place? In bedrooms, bathrooms, salons, doctor’s offices – mainly behind closed doors. This labor is private, and shared solely with trusted professionals or friends – the act of “getting ready before going out” is done together only with the most intimate of companions. “Putting on one’s face” also relates to the self-disciplinary tactics and emotional control that women must use in public, in romantic relationships, and in the workplace in order to be respected or treated as equally as their male counterparts. The artworks in First I Have to Put My Face On explore the human body in relation to the products and procedures included in performing beauty labor, as well as refer to the spaces where these activities occur, and the risks and repercussions of extreme skin/body cosmetic augmentation.

It is challenging to take a side on the topic of beauty labor, and whether or not to participate, embrace, condemn, or attempt to escape it. On one hand, the amount of time, money, and emotions spent for self-presentation can feel utterly oppressive, as feelings about one’s outward image affect moods and influence opinions of self-worth. One can notice the surge in empathetic internet memes about this topic – one in particular includes various images of female celebrities who allegedly cosmetically altered themselves with an overlaying text that reads “Don’t worry – you’re not ugly, you’re just poor.” The sentiment that these celebrities bought their beauty and that the only underlying difference between you and them is monetary is supposed to be comforting. On the other hand, presenting oneself in a way that one chooses can be liberating and equally as confidence boosting – one can’t help but feel empowered by watching Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty make-up tutorials for example.

Just now I took an elongated break from this text to scowl at an aggressive cystic pimple on my chin and work out the different strategies on how to wipe out every trace of its existence before the opening of this exhibition.

Whether or not this physical self expression is a result of conditioning by societal norms and fashion and beauty advertisements is difficult to say, as one can find themselves in a trap. Those who appear to wear too much makeup or show signs of body alterations may suffer the same negative reactions from peers as those who don’t attempt to change their appearance at all. There is a pressure to appear beautiful yet equally “natural” and conceal all efforts it took to get that way. Thus, First I Have to Put My Face On is as much a critique as an exposure and acknowledgement of beauty labor in its many forms.

Christina Gigliotti

First I Have to Put My Face On is the first appointment of TALEA, a series of projects curated by Like A Little Disaster focused on the practices of international curators.
TALEA (in Italian) is a piece of a plant used for vegetative (asexual) propagation. It is generally placed in soil or water - if the conditions are suitable, the plant piece will begin to grow as a new form of life independent of the parent.

Photos: Like A Little Disaster

[1] My grandmother, as well as classic Hollywood films such as A Foreign Affair starring Marlene Dietrich, in a scene where her character publicly mocks another woman for applying her lipstick unskillfully, thus completely humiliating her.