Objects from an idealised domestic realm become weapons – a frying pan, pills, booze, gas, matches, homemade explosives – but are they tools in the battle of the sexes, or against the self? Hunter has dedicated individual images to specific women. Scissors to Delilah, who cut Samson’s hair and broke his strength; a sharp object for Charlotte Corday who assassinated French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat (Hunter’s photograph shows a high heeled boot rather than knife used by Corday). Sugar – an ingredient mixed with ground fertiliser in the production of home made explosives – for Marian Price, who was jailed for her part in the IRA car bombing of London in 1973 and endured a 200 day hunger strike and brutal force feeding in an English prison. A knife is dedicated to St Judith – though I wonder perhaps whether it was intended for the jewish Judith who beheaded Holofernes, rather than the 13th Century ascetic? With the exception of Price, all these murderous women were popular subjects for artworks. While the references are bloody (topically so, in the case of Price) Hunter’s jewelled and manicured hands bring the discourse into the realm of advertising or fashion photography, bundling the suggestion of violent threat in with consumerism.
In each of the 18 photographs, Hunter’s hands hold an instrument of domestic warfare with the stamped text describing their purpose - a frying pan (‘heavy object’); Martini bottles (‘alcoholism’); and an open book (‘poison’). Hunter is renown for reversing gender roles and confronting sexism and misogyny in her sequential photographic works and this piece is exemplary of this.
Hunter passed away in 2014 and, working with photography for just over a decade, very few vintage photographs from this period remain in the Estate.
Of Other Spaces: Where Does Gesture Become Event?. Cooper Gallery, Dundee, (27 October-16 December 2016).
Alexis Hunter & Jo Spence, Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, 2013.
Live in Your Head: Concept and Experiment in Britain 1965-1975, Whitechapel Gallery, London, England and travelling to Museu do Chiado, National Museum of Modern Art of Portugal. 2000.
The Impossible Document, Photography and Conceptual Art in Britain 1966-1976 Cameraworks Gallery, London and travelling to Cambridge Darkroom Gallery, England, 1997.
Alexis Hunter / Towards a Feminist Perception, Women's Free Art Alliance, Regent's Park, London, England, 1977.
Space Open Studios, Hoxton, London, England, 1975.
Alexis Hunter: Radical Feminism in the 1970s. Exhibition catalogue, Norwich Gallery, 2006. Illustrated.
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