Zohar Fraimans paintings examine the influence of digitalization on common gender stereotypes. Her work explores how female identities are formed and through which mechanisms they are reconstructed in digital spaces such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Tinder. Using humor, Fraiman questions the practice of internet-based self-staging and criticizes exaggerated and distorted ways of expressing both gender and the self within image-based networks and social platforms.
Fraiman's large-scale oil paintings emphasize ambiguity and paint images of complex realities and superimposed identities in a playful way. In her works Allegory of Love (2021) and Feeling Fab (2020), the artist engages with processes of digitalization in popular culture. She delves into the phenomenon of the selfie, the effect of swiping as a form of modern self-subjectification, and the increasing interchangeability among subjects on the internet. Her works urge the viewer to reflect on what is depicted. As a recurring motif in her works, surfaces are displayed as an image within an image. Whether they are on television screens, mirrors, or tablets, these surfaces refer to the boundaries between fiction and reality, which imperceptibly merge into one another in digital space.
In her works, Fraiman refers to animated films and TV series like those created by Disney which show manufactured images of women. The artist integrates fictional characters like Snow White and Alice in Wonderland into her paintings and juxtaposes them with both female and male figures. In Me, Myself and I (2020), this results in an ambivalent collision and a merging of worlds. Fraiman's works emphasize the often idealized notions of femininity and beauty in digital space, which is hardly ever rooted in reality.
SHOW ME YOUR SHEROES creates a surreal, glowing world of color and form, establishing a dialogue with Fraiman's colorful works Muffin Palace (2020) and I Just Called to Say (2020). The artist borrows the lush color spectrum from the present day Internet. She is further influenced by the intense colors of modern day pop culture and the aesthetics of advertising from the 50s to the 70s. Her radiant works refer to the glow that the viewer encounters when using digital technologies such as smartphones and laptops.
Unlike in the worlds from which they originate, the fates of the female heroes or antiheroes in Fraiman's works ultimately remain unresolved. Will they attempt to lead a self-determined life in a red Pontiac, as in Time to Say Goodbye (2020)? Will they manage to break free from traditional norms? Can they possibly bring about social change? Zohar Fraiman's works open up dialogue using feminist perspectives. They serve as distorting mirrors which fundamentally question the worlds which have inspired them. The works in this exhibition, as well as the exhibition title, is sparked by the Warren Buffet quote: Tell me who your heroes are, and I'll tell you how you're going to turn out. How do representations of femininity in digital space shape our understanding of gender? How can we free ourselves from stereotypical thought patterns?
Gloria Aino Grzywatz
Artist Zohar Fraiman and curator Gloria Aino Grzywatz share a common interest in creating complementary systems to explore the status of being a woman and the larger concept of femininity. After meeting for the first time at SALOON Berlin, the international network for women active in art and culture, they quickly realized that they have much more in common and started their collaboration. In her works, Zohar Fraiman deliberately creates contrasts and contradictions. She points out social expectations and ideals that are placed on female identities, especially on the internet and social media. Gloria Aino Grzywatz also works with these contradictions by breaking down common stereotypes of gender, opening them up for open discussion, and to introducing more diversity-oriented perspectives.