Prudence Flint
JUXTAPOZ|Winter 2020
A Portrait of the Unnamed
Charlotte Pyatt

Whether filtered by an Instagram hue or loaded with pointed symbols, a portrait offers more than a likeness. Beyond appearances, these ghosts can recall transience and texture, as well as a point in time. 2019 offered a beautiful tragedy of subject matter, a litany of broken theories and prejudices about our world and each other, that we are trying to push into a healthier direction. Exploring this process of reversal is Australian artist Prudence Flint, who reflects on a history of misrepresentation as she creates space for new empowered realities.

Presenting thoughtful women in moments of quiet contemplation, Prudence hosts simple rooms free from the distractedness we battle daily. In these intimate spaces, we join her characters in the rhythm of everyday life. Their ordinary beauty is an expression of the unnamed, a journey of discovery for the true identity of womanhood, buried in history. Filled with social and cultural commentaries, Prudence unpacks ageism, violence of language, and the anxiety of men to reflect sincerely on her own experience as an artist and a woman in the present moment.

Charlotte Pyatt: Your style is typified by female characters inside of the home in moments of thought or everyday activity. Could you tell us a little more about your creative direction?

Prudence Flint: I am fascinated by how women have been represented historically in art and in the media. I think, all through time, women have been up against the limitations of their representation. They have been written out of history, their reality “unnamed” and denied meaning. We are so accustomed to this, and it is ingrained in our culture everywhere we look. It is as if women are unrecognizable if unrelated to male desire. Women are always in relation to lack, constantly up against unconscious bias. I wish for women to be at the center of things… to be all things, whole, boundless, perverse, and representative of humanity. I want to give voice to this experience of being alive, now, in this culture, as a woman.

This experience seems to focus on the mundane, almost ritualistic behaviour; brushing your teeth, showering, getting ready. Can you talk more about this?

I’m interested in trying to capture existence. These simple tasks are universal, where bodies are in rooms interacting with water, machines, hard-shaped surfaces. Bodies have movements: brushing, washing, cleaning, spitting, eating, sewing, writing, and playing music. I think the bathroom, especially, is a primordial place when it comes to our psychology. As babies, our mothers bathed us, we were naked and in water. It is a private space where we are in our animal bodies. A woman sitting on the edge of the bath or standing inside it. I think about the vessel and the body of water as uterine, and the flowing movement; it feels female, vaginal, open.

The environments housing your characters have become increasingly isolated over the last decade, moving from social spaces and tasks, to sparse interiors and sitting alone. What motivated the change?

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