Gina Osterloh: Her Demilitarized Zone: Image Without Weapon
April 14, 2023 – September 3, 2023
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
4454 Woodward Ave
Her Demilitarized Zone: Image Without Weapon presents the work of Filipino-American interdisciplinary artist Gina Osterloh. Based in Columbus, Ohio, Osterloh works primarily with lens-based media to create abstractions of performance that question how social constructs affect visual perception. This exhibition introduces a new image and text works that confront portraiture’s inability to resist preconceived notions of identity that society projects onto the body–such as race, gender, and sexuality.
In the feminist tradition of artists such as Martha Rosler and Barbara Kruger, Osterloh uses photographic strategies such as stark black-and-white images combined with text to address structures of power, control, war, profit-based culture, the body, and gender. Through a combination of text, images, and metal sculpture, Osterloh directly addresses gender and war, as well as the ideological weaponization of visuality and culture created through vision and images. The exhibition demonstrates the artists’ ability to create experiences of pause, where the viewer is invited to loosen the ego’s grip and the familiarity of control and power.
Her Demilitarized Zone: Image Without Weapon is inspired by the artist’s experience living through the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when oppressive rhetoric resulted in an increase in hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans in the United States. To cope with the new reality of this violence, Osterloh created a photo-portrait, Mirror Woman. This portrait exercise has expanded into the multidisciplinary series engaging viewers in the contradictions between borders and boundaries, the self, and other. It supposes that imperialism and nationhood have a lasting effect on the body as a site of conquest. Her Demilitarized Zone addresses the contested areas of the body intertwined with the militarization of images, language, and ideologies.