Sleeping Beauty. Secret Desires

Sleeping Beauty. Secret Desires

Series: Not a Man’s World
Size: 110 x 77 or 80 x 56, Edition 9

Belkina is more serious when she presents the series Not a man’s world in 2007. This series also comprises twelve works, which are based on female figures from various Russian and Western European fairy tales. However the way in which the figures are portrayed is not one with the comfortable and familiar atmosphere which could be associated with the fairy-tale phenomenon: an seemingly amiable childhood story that stood for a clear and orderly view of the world where good triumphs over evil and in the end the woman finds her prince. For Belkina the impact of the fairy-tale on today‘s world now has a different connotation. In this work she is not looking for the sentiment of the truths she believed when young, but allows the figures, and thereby the stories, to be suffused with a different spirit. Marcel Proust‘s statement Art is a continual sacrifice of sentiment to the truth matches Belkina‘s artistic attitude perfectly. There is no place in the modern woman‘s view of the world for the delusions we were fed in stories such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. The emancipation, the liberation of women from their position of subjugation and unconditional submission to their position in the social reality principally defined by men, has given them a new role. In today‘s world Katerina Belkina sees the new woman struggling with her freedom, where her protection has been lost and where she will and has to find her own way to respond. Belkina confronts her figures with the idealized images from the fairy tales of yesteryear and shows us a confusing reality. And looks for a new correlation with the archetypes these are based on.

Some of the titles for these works have also been given a subtitle that sheds new light on the subject. Apparently the Sleeping Beauty will never awake from her toxic sleep and has abandoned herself to Secret Desires. The toll paid by the Mermaid for her freedom in love is to sacrifice her former security, Mermaid. Sacrifice. And the woman who in her new state has taken on the role of Bluebeard has fallen prey to the jealousy inherent in this, Bluebeard. Jealousy. Anxieties, uncertainties and new struggles for humanity, women, in a new, post-modern world. Katerina identifies with these women and is, therefore, one of them.

The artist initially wanted to use models for these works, but she realised during the sessions that she could best reproduce the atmosphere she had in mind for the work if she played the role herself. As model, it was she who could best understand what she, as artist, wanted to say. Because, as a photographer she could see herself as model, but conversely as a model was not able to see her image through the lens of the camera, something slightly mystifying arose during the sessions, which she discovered was something magical, something enchanting. In this way the work‘s creative process took on a life of its own.

Text by Marike van der Knaap, Art Historian

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