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Elaine Kaufmann
Brooklyn, NY



ARTIST STATEMENT: Donna Haraway describes as the “god-trick” the pretending that one can “[see] everything from nowhere.” Though Haraway’s focus is on seeing aided by technology, her argument is relevant to claims that the images produced by artists and filmmakers are universal, unbiased, and timeless. My work uses the lenses of class and gender to examine the idea of a transcendent perspective.

Central to each collage in the series The View from Below is an image of a white man looking. Whether he looks at a desert lake, a New York City street, or a painting in a studio, the image locates him in time and space. His viewpoint is subjective, limited, and transitory. He is framed by the outline of a U.S. lake, an opening that references both the female body and an aerial, god’s-eye view—the view from above.

Man-Made Lakes is a series of drawings based on Google Earth images of housing around artificial lakes and recurring tropes from 19th century American landscape paintings. By juxtaposing 19th century landscape styles with contemporary satellite imagery, this series questions the boundaries separating “the natural” and “the artificial.”

These projects build upon the drawing series International Design, which incorporate text taken from articles about homes. In place of the original image of luxury, I substitute an image of housing in the Third World. The text does describe the image but in a way that the article's focus on wealth is revealed as problematic. This project highlights how the media imagines expensive housing to be normal rather than extraordinary.

Your Mother Country Appeals to You explores how contemporary advertising articulates a utopian vision as a means to further an agenda of profit and corporate power. Despite the failure of the Soviet Union to achieve a state that lived up to its rhetoric, its propaganda posters remain some of the most recognizable symbols of government idealism. This project combines the imagery of Soviet posters with the text of contemporary advertising, juxtaposing text and image to expose the emptiness of flowery corporate promises.

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