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Case Study: Julie Rrap

Preliminary Course (Year 11) in preparation for HSC Section II Extended Response.

Caitlin McGrath

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of Case Study: Julie Rrap

Case Study
Julie Rrap
Julie Rrap is a contemporary Australian artist.
She works across a variety of 2D, 3D and 4D forms, including:
- photography
- painting
- sculpture
- performance
- video

Her finished artworks are rarely limited to one form.
Rrap conceptual ideas push her to integrate a variety of material forms and techniques to achieve her desired output.
The Artist
Read the following segment about the
artwork taken from the MCA document:
Julie Rrap Body Double
Consider the conceptual and material practice that blended to form "Overstepping", 2001.

Go to
and click "create".
Enter as many words as you can that relate to the artwork.
Save your text image.

This will create a visual representation of your critical analysis of the artwork.
Go to "The Apiary" website.
Select the "Studios" link.
Watch the video about Julie Rrap and her practice.
"Overstepping is a large format, glossy digital image in which the artist’s feet sprout into fleshy high heels. The visual realism of the feet indicates they ‘belong to a real woman...We are simultaneously given both a sense of style and of exquisite pain. No woman who has ever worn stilettos can look at Overstepping without wincing. This single image has it all. It describes the female body and the way it is fragmented and manipulated in the interests of appearance as well as the personal cost of those transformations.’ Overstepping references Rene Magritte’s painting Philosophy in the Boudoir (1947). In this painting, Magritte blurs fetishised items of clothing (a woman’s dress and high-heeled shoes) with a suggested bodily imprint of a woman left on the objects. Using a realistic style and irrational juxtapositions, Magritte sabotages the viewer’s sense of security about the reality of appearances and the appearance of reality. Rrap achieves a similar strategy with Overstepping, which Rrap has said explores ‘the ultimate fetish in the Freudian sense’. The idea of feet and shoes as charged, fetishised objects is common in advertising, especially in women’s magazines and large- scale billboards. Rrap uses advertising’s cropping of the image and glossy full colour surface in Overstepping.Rrap’s installation Rise and Fall (1994) is a useful comparison with Overstepping. In Rise and Fall, we see, on a video monitor, a pair of male feet teetering on his toes trying to do the ballet en pointe, while in the foreground on five surrounding plinths are motorised pink ballet shoes, which loudly rise and fall. The failure of the male feet to match the female pose, while still remaining the centre of attention, presents a humorous critique of male/female stereotypes and power relationships. The title suggests power, as in the rise and fall of empires, a particularly male-dominated history.Rrap blurs the distinction between the authentic and the simulated, the real and the unreal, the true and the fake. In Overstepping, our senses are confused by the impossibility of the image we are witnessing: a convincing image of woman’s foot literally becoming a stiletto heeled shoe. The two fluidly become one, and the limitations of the physical body are transcended by the artist through digital manipulation of the original photograph of the artist’s foot. This image uses inversion to question our notions of the real, by demonstrating how easily experiences can be constructed."
This is a self-directed case study focusing on the artist Julie Rrap. You will be directed around the case study, but you are able to select and move around freely if you choose so.
You will find instructions in shapes such as this one.
All activities must be completed, but you may do them in any order and in any format you feel appropriate. Once completed each activity is to be added to a folder titled "Julie Rrap -Your Name" and submitted on a USB or CD by the end of term.
Watch the video above.

Discuss how the differing structural forms of "Overstepping" (still image and film) communicate differently with the audience.
Draw on your own subjective experience with the work.
Most artists have critical and productive relationships with their culture.

Explore how Julie Rrap's relationship with her own culture is utilised and reflected in "Overstepping", 2001.

NB: Your response should be at least one page.
"For some years I have been creating a series of works using negative impressions of the body. Directly or indirectly these works have referenced the history of representation of the body, most particularly that of the female nude.

The work Untitled (after Manet’s Olympia) 2002 formed part of a group of works exhibited in 2002 under the collective title Fleshed Out. This group of works was inspired by a description of a performance work by Claus Oldenberg in 1960 titled Foto Death. In this work, Oldenberg arranged a family group of three in front of a backdrop while a photographer prepared to take their portrait. Each time the group was to be filmed they fell to the ground, so defying representation. Like Roland Barthes’ description of photography as ‘flat-death’ in his book Camera Lucida, Oldenberg emphasizes the embalming process of photography and, by extension, representational history itself.

In the exhibition Fleshed Out famous paintings by Manet, Gauguin and Courbet were used as large life-size photo backdrops in which the central figures were digitally removed. The removed figures re-appeared alongside the photo backdrops as negative bronze casts.

In the work for this exhibition, Manet’s famous painting Olympia is subjected to this process. The impression of a female body, that of the artist, re-creates this pose and presents it to the audience as a ‘performance’ sculpture in bronze. In occupying this sculpture, the viewer becomes the ‘flesh’ of the painting, entering history fleetingly as a representation. Like Oldenberg’s performance, however, this experience is not recorded by the camera or historicized, but remains only in the memory of the viewer/performer.

In one sense, there is mischief at play in interfering with history but equally there is liberation of historical works into a contemporary context. All the works chosen in Fleshed Out were controversial in their own time. The transient nature of performance is introduced as an immediate experience of the work. Without the presence of the viewer the work succumbs to a state of absence. In removing the central figures from the paintings, the meaning and composition of the work become inexplicable, while the negative space of the casts of those same figures reduces the heroic tradition of bronze figure sculpture to a ‘pre-stage’ in the casting process.

There is a politics of representation at play here in which the viewer’s participation forms a crucial part of the subversive process."
(After Manet's Olympia)
Read the following statement from Julie
Rrap about this artwork.
Watch the video above.

Summarise Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker's critical analysis of Manet's Olympia into a simplified list.
It is clear that Julie Rrap's "Untitled (After Manet's Olympia)" 2002 references Edouard Manet's "Olympia" 1863.

In a table, compare and contrast the two artworks.
Consider conceptual practice, material practice and audience reception of the works.
The intention of "Untitled (After Manet's Olympia)" is for the audience to climb into the negative bronze mold and become the flesh of the painting and the figure preserved in history.
Exhibiting this work in a gallery means that the audience are not allowed to touch the artwork, leaving the space void of the figure.

Explain how the site affects the conceptual intentions of the artist.
Julie Rrap wants to exhibit some of her artworks and has asked you to be the curator. Your first job is to create a pamphlet for the exhibition.

The pamphlet must be appropriate and clearly display the name of the exhibition and the artist. It must contain a brief description of the exhibition, quotes from both the artist and art critics and display at least three (3) artworks from the exhibition.
This pamphlet needs to entice and attract an audience to the exhibtion, so get creative and persuasive!
Let's Get Creative!
Julie Rrap's artworks are predominantly concerned with the representation of the figure, and more closely, the female figure. Rrap has explored feminism and gender roles in society throughout her works. She has been actively criticising what dictates female sensibility, has explored whether it is socially or biologically determined and discussed the role historical art conventions have played in these ideals.
The Figure
Select two (2) of Julie Rrap's artworks and
explore the conceptual similarities and how they
are represented through material differences.
Full transcript