Silhouettes Remain

Silhouettes Remain
Single-channel video installation, 10 minutes
Installation view: Only Silhouettes Remain at A.I.R. Gallery May 28--June 26, 2022

Drawing on an assembled collection of images of European Orientalist paintings depicting women, Jeffereis’ video employs digital editing techniques as both a critical examination of colonial fantasies and a speculation on liberatory possibilities.

Silhouettes Remain comes out of Jeffereis’ research into misrepresentations of women throughout art history, including the European construct of “the Orient” and its fantasies of the “exotic.” Contrasting the Japonisme movement of the late 1800s—in which European women styled themselves after Japanese women in an effort to appear exotic—against the Orientalist trope of the odalisque, Jeffereis questions both the invisibility and hypervisibility of Asian women. Her video excavates the origins of misportrayals and stereotypes that continue to this day. As contemporary viewers, how might we look at these paintings in ways that do not reinscribe and reify the same colonial power dynamics?

In Silhouettes Remain, the frame becomes a portal through which the subject of a painting may disappear from sight, offering the viewer a new way of looking and the subject a reprieve from unseeing eyes. Reframing long-standing narratives, the video speculates on new, imagined futures for the women of these paintings.