Jemima Stehli is known for using her naked body to create complex photographic conversations with some of our Western culture’s most iconic nude images. But whether she is becoming Allen Jones’ tie me up, tie me down 1960’s table and chair, slipping into the (spike-heeled) shoes of Helmet Newton’s formidable amazons, snapping herself in a blurred, Baconesque frenzy, or assuming the pose of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus in a studio surrounded by a jumble of photographic equipment (right, “Standing nude”, 2001/2002); her recreations remain deliberately and provocatively ambiguous. Are they homages or critiques? Is the display of Stehli’s (enviably fine) body a source of pleasure or discomfort? (In the series in which she invited a number of the art establishment’s Alpha males to photograph her as she stripped in front of them, the power play was especially, deliciously, ambiguous). But equally significant is the way in which Stehli’s work patrols the boundaries between photography, painting, sculpture and performance, and her performative painterliness is especially evident in the most recent “MM” series where she cavorts with a red chiffon scarf à la Marilyn Monroe as captured by Bert Stern. Here it is the scarf, rather than the body that takes the leading role, and the result is almost completely one of gestural abstraction (until 3 May).
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Jemima Stehli'