Girls Girls Girls: Simone Rocha’s subversive exploration of femininity

Simone Rocha unites an eclectic collection of artists for the new exhibition ‘Girls Girls Girls’ at Lismore Castle Arts, Ireland 

black and white photos of girls
Left, Francesca Woodman, Self-portrait talking to Vince, Providence, Rhode Island. 1977 Gelatin silver estate print. Right, Cindy Sherman Untitled, 1976/2000. Gelatin silver print Edition 17/20.
(Image credit: Courtesy The Woodman Family Foundation and Marian Goodman Gallery. © Woodman Family and Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, copyright Cindy Sherman. Foundation / DACS, London.)

A multifaceted approach to the female gaze is explored in an exhibition curated by fashion designer Simone Rocha.

‘Girls Girls Girls,’ taking place at Lismore Castle Arts, unites work from a diverse selection of artists including Sophie Barber, Louise Bourgeois, Elene Chantladze, Petra Collins, Sian Costello, Dorothy Cross, Genieve Figgis, Iris Haeussler, Eimear Lynch & Domino Whisker, Roni Horn, Cassi Namoda, Sharna Osborne, Josiane M.H. Pozi, Cindy Sherman, Alina Szapocznikow, Harley Weir, Francesca Woodman and Luo Yang.

stone face on a red background

Elene Chantladze, Untitled, mixed media on stone. 

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist and LC QUEISSER)

A juxtaposition of media forms, encompassing art, sculpture and photography, subvert the traditional concepts of femininity. In ‘Stilletos’ by Dorothy Cross, shoes in cowhide and cow teat muse on the role of the absurd in fashion. Unsettling issues of identity take shape in Francesca Woodman’s self-portrait. Classic motifs are given a subversive twist in Sian Costello’s self-portraits in oil, while Elene Chantladze’s images on stone have a nightmarish quality.

‘I wanted to bring together artists who make powerful, provocative work and have them together in the space, sharing the underlying femininity of the pieces,’ says Rocha. ‘I wanted to explore the works of these inspirational artists and for them to share a space together.’

The exhibition brings established artists such as Cindy Sherman and Roni Horn together with those emerging, including Sophie Barber, Luo Yang and Genieve Figgis. When viewed collectively, the works tap into a disturbing alternative reality, with haunting self-portraiture reflecting an internal narrative unique to each artist. The contrasting media, when viewed together, presents a multi-faceted exploration of femininity.

It is a dichotomy Rocha herself explores in her own work, juxtaposing traditionally feminine silhouettes against masculine tailoring. ‘The female spirit and experience have been a strong focus of my work from the beginning,’ she says. ‘I am always pushing to make something traditionally feminine in a modern, off-kilter world. In this exhibition, I wanted to explore the works of these inspirational artists and for them to share a space together.’

stone painted with Kim & Kanye;s faces

Sophie Barber, Kim and Kanye by Juergen again, 2021, oil on canvas. 

(Image credit: Courtesy Alison Jacques, copyright the artist)

hairy high heeled shoes made with cowhide treats

Dorothy Cross, Stilletos, 1994, Shoes, cowhide, cow teats. Collection of J&M Donnelly

(Image credit: press)

painted picture of a headless woman

Sian Costello, Wishful Self-Portrait I, 2020. Oil on Canvas Paper

(Image credit: press)

woman smoking in front of hanging meats

Luo Yang, Jian San, photograph.

(Image credit: Courtesy Luo Yang / Migrant Bird Space)

INFORMATION                                                                                                                                       The Listmore Castle Arts 2002 exhibition takes place April 2 - October 30 2022

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.