Beeldbrug episode 6: Misha and Jannis

Beeldbrug episode 6: Misha Stevenson and Jannis de Reu

The discomfort of growing up.

Art can have a big impact on its spectators. Some pass out from the epic status of Michelangelo’s David while others turn to violence as with Barnett Newmans Who’s Afraid of Red Yellow and Blue. There are also works that do not evoke that kind of emotion, works can also stir up discomfort deep inside, just like the two works that are compared in this “Beeldbrug”: Misha Stevenson’s Cinderella 2 is my favorite film (2020) and Rineke Dijkstra’s Beach Series (1992–96).

Dijkstra’s works investigate personal transformation, usually the transformation from child to adult during adolescence. Her works capture average people, including all their imperfections. The Beach Series shows the mix of boldness and uncertainty during adolescence.

Stevenson’s work also emphasizes the transition from child to adult woman and all the contradictions involved. Specifically the transition from an innocent and clean child to the often sexually objectified woman is investigated. The spectator sees the twenty-year-old Stevenson in her bedroom. However, the artist’s bedroom has been turned into a nursery: a princess room with a princess bed, Jip and Janneke bedding and a stuffed animal of a mouse. Stevenson’s half-naked body emerges from a pink princess dress.

Both works highlight the uncomfortable transition from child to adolescent. Stevenson also clearly examines the development of the child’s body into the adult female body, with all the sexual connotations associated with the female body. The works give the viewer a feeling of discomfort. The viewer is confronted with situations that should not be viewed for a long period of time in daily life. Because the artists place them in an artistic context, it is now permissible to view them attentively.