Displacement I & II

by Marie Tomanova

Artist Statement

In my work I examine and explore questions of identity through self-portraiture. I am interested in how gender, sexuality, age, and cultural background affect identity and how we are shaped by the places and society that we grow up in.

I was born in former Czechoslovakia and self-portraiture had been the main focus in my paintings. I painted myself in various stages of undress and very often was symbolizing my femininity by exposing the genitals. I struggled with objectification and female oppression in local heavy patriarchal system. After I finished my Master’s degree at Faculty of Fine Arts, I asked my professor if I may keep consulting with him in the future and he told me that “sure, if I sleep with him.”  That was as much as I wanted to take and I decided to leave to US for what I saw as freedom.

After moving to US and being daily exposed to new culture, societal norms, expectations, surroundings and landscape I felt even stronger urge to elaborate and explore on who I am and how one’s identity is and could be flexible. I felt the need to document myself in new environment in order to not lose my “old” self and switched to more instant medium of photography. My anxiety was eventually replaced by comfort and understanding that self is fluid and transformative. That allowed me to become more abstract, yet even more intimate in my latest work where I use my body as a form to explore relationship between nature and the human body.