Australian multidisciplinary artists Honey Long and Prue Stent create work that centers on femininity in all its guises. In ‘Phanta Firma’ they cast female forms in classical poses, abstracting them with material and color as they blend into their surrounds.
Drawing from contemporary culture and art history, Long and Stent have created scenes where women strike poses in nature according to the traditions of Classical aesthetics. But where Botticelli’s Venus has only part of her body covered by fabric, in ‘Phanta Firma’ each woman is draped in material that clings to her body, covering her face, billowing about her in the wind, or drawing her into the damp of the water that surrounds her. Though Long and Stent state that these women are granted agency through their placement, in many images it appears almost the opposite. Why are these women not allowed to see? Why are they being dragged into the earth? The scenes the pair have crafted are simultaneously beautiful and disturbing: women are merging with their natural surrounds, disappearing from sight. Paradoxically, the artists write that their muses are enjoying their autonomy, their poses representing a sense of being both “in control” and “self-assured.” Both interpretations are possibly are true, Long and Stent’s practice—as their joint biography notes—“centers around their conflicted relationship to femininity and its passive associations”.