In multiple ways, my artwork is inspired by the theme of the woman at the window. I am intrigued by the representation of the window as a liminal space that, either physically or symbolically, frames, and is inhabited by, a wide range of trespassing bodies. As an opening between the interior and the exterior, the window is both a point of contact and, paradoxically, a frontier. It is simultaneously a connection and a separation, an entryway and a barrier, a symbol of freedom but also of repression. One can look through the glass and observe the exterior without being seen; or, vice versa, the interior can be seen by the external world.
Barbara Zecchi's solo exhibition at the Emily Dickinson's Museum in Amherst - November 2019
In particular, I bring together three series of interconnected works, all inspired by the same trope: 1) The woman-at-the-window series (oil pastels, acrylic paintings, and collages) represents a wide range of female silhouettes: lonely women who try to break through the window barrier; or women that embraced other female bodies thus challenging the gender binary in multiple ways. 2) The rulli series (oil pastels and acrylic paintings) represent the window itself, as I experienced it during my upbringing in Venice. Rulli are traditional Venetian window panes made by filigree stained glass rondels that dramatically shape the way one sees the exterior. The glass becomes a filter that injects vivid colors to the landscape. 3) the video-essay production that interprets the screen as a window and deconstructs the normative hetero-patriarchal representation of women in mainstream cinema
Traditionally, in hetero-patriarchal societies, the role of women has been shaped within the interior side of the frontier — “protected” (i.e. encased) within the home, confined to a space defined and imposed by hegemonic practices and discourses. In Golden Age Spanish literature, for instance, the term “ventanera” (literally, the woman-at-the-window) indicated a woman who enjoyed exposing herself as the object of the male gaze, and therefore it carried negative connotations. However, from her own point of view, we might argue that the “ventanera” was a woman who dared to look and to be the subject of her own gaze. The “ventanera” is thus a powerful trope for women artists.