Martine Gutierrez Reveals the Secrets of Feminine Power in “True Story”

Photo: Girlfriends (Rosella & Palma 4), 2014, Archival inkjet print, 9 x 13-1/2 inches each, Edition of 8

Crave fave Martíne Gutierrez, the Brooklyn-based artist and performer we profiled in Faces of Photography during Art Basel Miami Beach last year, returns with True Story, a new exhibition of video and photographic work featuring pop-star alter ego Martine, on view at Boston University Art Galleries now through December 11, 2016.

Also: Legendary Photographer Cindy Sherman Returns to Tinseltown with “Imitation of Life”

As Martine, Gutierrez delves into the realm of feminine archetypes taken from popular sources such as classic Hollywood films, fashion photography, and music videos to explore the construction of gender and identity in modern life. Like Cindy Sherman, Gutierrez lives on both sides of the camera, becoming both artist and muse. Casting herself in different roles, Martine embodies some of the most seductive and alluring images of the feminine, revealing the ways in which the body becomes the work of art itself, ready to be cast in the shape of our ideals.

Martine Part VI (still), 2012-2016; projection, Color video with sound, 50 min. 34 sec.

The exhibition features a large-scale projection of the nine-part, semi-autobiographical film Martine Part I-IX (2012–2016), which follows the title character on a mysterious and melancholic journey of self-discovery and transformation. Here Gutierrez shows the scope of her talents to the greatest effect. In addition to directing, editing, and performing in her video work—often playing multiple, if not all, roles—Gutierrez scores each film with original music. The result is that of an auteur on part with Alfred Hitchcock, who understood the way in which cinema worked as a vehicle of sight, sound, and motion centered in a narrative that drew its strength from the power of symbolism.

Here, the symbol of woman draws heavily on the ways in which the female form has been used to sell products, aspirations, and illusions for the past century. As Marshall McLuhan observed, “The medium is the message,” and Gutierrez deftly plays with this, using not only the photograph and the video to record the moment, but the artist’s body as a medium as well. In this way, Martine channels the collective unconsciousness, becoming an object of desire as well as the mastermind who can give or withhold, taking power on both ends.

Clubbing (still), 2011, Color video with sound, 3 min. 08 sec.

In doing so, Gutierrez challenges our assumptions of these archetypes, revealing the way our desires, our desires, and our expectations have been conditioned by a set of aesthetics determined by someone else. Though the choice of characters of characters is familiar, Gutierrez pushes them to their logical extreme, showing how easily we take fictions as fact while doing our best to ignore their cumulative impact. True Story is just that: an examination of our fantasies and the way in which the shape and mold our views of ourselves.

All artwork: ©Martine Gutierrez

Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.