Value your own creation

By Rhonda Dredge

A beautiful girl looks in a golden mirror and what does she see? Staring back at her is a paradox. The reflection in the mirror is not only sorrowful but has her eyes closed.

Zena Hosseini is playing with herself and a mirror to diabolical effect at a graduation exhibition at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

How can she take this more complex view of a woman out into the quick grab world of the 21st century?

A budding artist only has a moment to make an impact. Zena has exposed herself in a clinging net body stocking, forcing the viewer to respond to her chic, sexy persona and consider what she is doing.

She sits on a fluffy stool with a golden make-up table by her side and is slowly applying a mask to her face.

The VCA runs the graduate certificate course to give graduates a chance to pick up art again before deciding whether to launch or relaunch their careers.

In Becoming Lucy, Zena investigates the process of creating a character. Lucy, the reflection in the mirror, appears to be tragic with a white club shape over her face and a chipped lower lip.

Is the artist turning into Lucy or is Lucy merely a cover-up for the artist? There are many ways you can inhabit a character without actually allowing it to take over. The dialogue between the two can be quite engrossing.

“Lucy is her alter ego I imagine,” said Vikki McInnes, editor of the art magazine Art+Australia, as if she, too, has an incipient character ready to perform when necessary.

The perfect part of Lucy is that she stays in the mirror while Zena is seated. When Zena takes a break, the two of them walk through the grounds of the VCA without doing anything that weird.

Artists like to consider their own psychology in creative ways, said another graduate student Laine Stewart. “The work is playful in contrast to this very serious world,” she said.

Some of the students are questioning the over-zealous attention to mental health in the media and the overly critical assessment of women in public roles.

“There’s an overemphasis on trying to self-diagnose. Humans have a range of emotions.”

In Open Shut Them, Leah Mariani challenges the fact that female footballer Tayla Harris was trolled after a photograph of her appeared in the Herald Sun.

“Women open their legs all the time and they’re not trolled,” Leah told Southbank Local News.

She screen-printed images of a ballet dancer and footballer across words from the popular nursery rhyme to make the point.

“I concluded that where you traditionally had the dances that are considered to be for the male gaze it’s fine to open your legs but extend that to a male-dominated field like footy and you’re not allowed to open your legs.”

23 students were represented in the three-day graduate certificate exhibition. The course is run by sculptor John Meade, known for his own poignant characters.

“I love the energy and community of art school,” Laine said. “When you’re creating by yourself you don’t realise the value of your own art work.”

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