Lihi Shani: Gender and Consumption
23rd September – 27th October 2016
Omer Tiroche Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition of the multidisciplinary artist Lihi Shani.
Shani is a recent Graduate with Honors of HaMidrasha Faculty of Arts. During her studies she became fascinated with the concept of Ebay and online shopping. What intrigued her the most was how people purchase and use products in a consumer society. She started to question the identity of the self through merchandise and shopping.
According to Philip Cushman, the writer of the article Why the Self is Empty, we are not just living in a consumer society, but rather consumer “culture”. We are no longer purchasing items we need; we are purchasing items we desire. As the intensity of consumption increases, so too does the emptiness in the self. As a direct consequence of devoid substance in the inner self, appearance is what counts. Therefore, one can infer that the notion of mass consumption is psychological and thus affect the construction of identities and the formation of relationships. For example, superstores such as IKEA enables two people on opposite sides of the world to purchase the same coffee table. Moreover, flicking through IKEA’s catalogues, creates a falls sense of necessity for unnecessary products. This therapeutic act can form an addiction to shopping.
Shani’s artworks are part of this consumerist world; the banana peels are an attempt to show how everything can be tossed away, rotten and forgotten about. Nothing really has a meaning. They also play a part as a phallic instrument; the banana peels are a mere reflection of the loss of gender in today’s world. We as consumers have become unisex, one can purchase masculine or feminine items regardless of gender and age. There was a time when women would purchase items that were identified as feminine, and men were targeted for products representing masculinity.
Another aspect Shani focuses on is the mass production and the low cost of items “made in China”, such as her plastic dolls series consisting of plastic dolls crushed between two sheets of Perspex. They represent the line of production of plastic products and the loneliness of humanity that now desires plastic dolls to fulfil imaginary relationships. Shani deflates the dolls, leaving them empty, meaningless and useless. The deflated Superman is no longer the ideal man, he is just another plastic doll that can be punctured, squashed and helpless. In addition to the plastic dolls, she created an installation of Vagina Footballs. These American footballs are symbols of the American Dream, with Football being the most popular sports in the United States. Even though there are women’s Football teams, it is often viewed as a violent sport, identified with men. Having a Vagina made out of a Football is another example of the blurred line between the masculine and the feminine.