September 22- October 26, 2019
Opening reception: September 22, 7-10pm
Gallery Hours 1-5 Saturdays
Actual Size is pleased to present Nicole Belle: Pockets, an exhibition of photographs that treat the pocket as a subject of study, abstraction, and a multivalent symbol. Formal close-up images render the seam opening and the volume of the pocket itself as something familiar made strange. The crisp photographs evoke Op art, gashes in Lucio Fontana’s canvases, minimalism, and sex organs and convey the charged meaning of a clothing feature that carries a long history interwoven with gendered expectations, agency, and notions of private and public.
For women in Western culture from the 17th- to late-19th centuries, pockets were a separate garment worn underneath long skirts or dresses. Those clothes were large enough that they could conceal sizable pockets, which usually contained all the important items women would need throughout the day. It was more a purse strapped around the waist, hanging down either thigh, than it was a part of the outerwear; indeed, modern-day purses and handbags may be the descendents of these private pockets. They were some of the few spaces that women could control, in property-based societies in which they had few legal rights to ownership.
This series of images attempts to explore photographically the space created by the pocket. Belle is drawn to sewing’s connection to women’s work, as well as its association with domestic social roles. While constructing various forms of pockets, Belle found the shape they took was vaginal. The opening dominates the frame; it's only visual competition is the regular pattern of the fabric, which varies from image to image. In contrast the interior, which protrudes from the other side, connotes the phallic. The pocket contains both of those views within itself. The photographs create a visual conversation between the two states of the pocket, separating inside and outside meanings, making them sit next to each other on the wall.