Charlotte Abramow’s Body Gallery

Along with the exhibition Birds, the Hangar art center in Brussels, is dedicating its top floor to a retrospective of Charlotte Abramow. Between surrealism and activism, the Belgian photographer presents her captivating visions of a liberated body.

While birds populate the photographs of the first two floors of the Hangar. In the large mezzanine of the art center, it is Charlotte Abramow who has made her nest. “We wanted to exhibit it for a long time. We titled his retrospective Volle Petrol, an expression meaning “at full speed” – a nod to the spontaneity of this collaboration, since the decision to carry it out was taken in June”, confides Delphine Dumont, artistic advisor of the place. But Fly Petrol also refers to the evolutions, the rapid changes that people of the photographer’s generation born in 1993 are facing. A dizzying speed, giving rise to deep uprooting. This movement, Charlotte Abramow manages for already ten years to tame it. With 192,000 subscribers on her Instagram account today, the Belgian photographer has established herself as a major figure of feminism 2.0, a visual activist, striving to represent, through colorful stagings and irreverences poetics, the diversity of bodies, and the norms that lock them up in suffocating boxes.

Charlotte Abramow becomes an activist

As we enter the exhibition, clouds greet us – a reference to the artist’s fascination with the skies, as well as his love for Magritte and Belgian surrealism. On this wall sits a body of which we only perceive the folds, an abstract sculpture inviting from the first glance to deconstruct our convictions, and to perceive the human silhouettes outside the prism of eroticism. “The model was painted white. I wanted her body to evoke something gourmet, like marshmallow, or bread dough,” says the author. From room to room, the Hangar then offers a compilation of Charlotte Abramow’s various research. Here, bodies painted in multicolored shades free themselves from the dictates of thinness. There, Claudette, an elderly woman, celebrates her nudity in the rooms of a chic hotel. Further on, the pages of the catalog produced for the release of season 2 of the Netflix series Sex Education recall with originality the basics of consent, and of fulfilling sexuality. A collection echoing its mosaics of breasts compared to fruits and vulvas made from different materials. Images all aimed at celebrating bodies that are not usually shown.

But Charlotte Abramow is also an activist. On one of the walls of the mezzanine are plastered his posters This is not consent – a poignant response to a shocking Irish court decision that used a rape victim’s thong as “evidence of consent”. Also a director, the artist presents 12 noon – The Forbidden Crya short film that is part of the video project H24 – 24 hours in the life of a woman, broadcast on Arte. An episode narrated in the form of sharp verse, where the protagonist decides to intervene to save a stranger from domestic violence. Finally, like a last retreat at the heart of the exhibition, a dark room broadcasts in a loop The passerby, clip made in 2018 on the piece by Georges Brassens. A video immediately censored on YouTube upon release, for offensive content. “I had trouble understanding how these images could shock. Then I learned that it was actually a mass posting of followers of George Brassens’ page, a large majority of white and elderly men, ” explains the photographer. A bitter note reminding her that her fight is far from over.

© Charlotte Abramow

© Charlotte Abramow

© Charlotte Abramow

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