Risk Hazekamp is an artist based in Rotterdam who works primarily
with photography and video. In her work, the language of Hollywood
is directly engaged. Often the works take the issue of gender by the
horns, quite literally in some cases since the images of “the West”,
cowboys and all the baggage that they carry in terms of gender and
media constructions of gender, are prevalent.
In works that use the figure, disturbingly familiar clothing and landscape
to deconstruct –or perhaps reconstruct- the idealised images of maleness
and femaleness, Risk’s work often exists in a state of ambivalent
“femanliness”. Is she seeking to attain the perfect image of a lesbian
Marlboro woman with tinges of a female James Dean? Or is she asking
us to think about how Hollywood manipulates us? And does the bullfighter
imagery challenge the sexist swagger of Hemingway or reflect a blatant
admiration? Sometimes it is difficult to tell and perhaps one does not need
to since therein lies the power of the work to arrest.
In more recent works, the issue of gender and personal identity is tackled
even more directly as bearded androgens –she has moved into using models
in addition to casting herself in her work- populate portraiture, video and
what appear to be stills from films. Interestingly enough, whereas the earlier
work that uses the language of Hollywood and Risk’s apparent
(and perhaps desired) resemblance to a young James Dean, the new works
have a strong European cinema feeling to them. “Giant” (2001) pulls no
punches in referencing a mainstream Hollywood classic whereas
“Liberté Pour Tous” (2005) could be a still from a cult French film
that never got made.
It is not necessarily pedantic to insist that these works are much more
about the relationship between personal identity and gender than about
sexual identity. Of course, sexuality is a key aspect of personal identity.
However, whereas artists like Del LaGrace Volcano have trod similar
ground in terms of content, these works do not shock and amaze because
of what someone might do with her body, but far more who she might
“be” deep within herself.
text by Ken Pratt, July 2006
invited by ulf fågelhammar