This One’s For You

In 1992 architectural historian Beatriz Colomina wrote The Split Wall: Domestic Voyeurism, which was part of a publication titled Sexuality and Space. In the essay she discusses the architecture of the home, in particular to the architect Adolf Loos. Throughout this essay Colomina discusses how Loos defines the interior space female, and the exterior male. Rooms and windows are placed in Loos’ architectural designs, in particular the Villa Müller in Prague, so once inside it is difficult to see outside. The windows are opaque and create a theatrical element to the interior space, therefore not only alienating the female
in the interior but also making her an object.

The paintings exhibited in This One’s For You are selected from an ongoing series of portraits by Blightman of her female friends and family, portraits of landscapes and domestic interiors. Each of these paintings, which act as a visual diary, hint towards an ‘outside world’ whether that is an internet hub with a view on to the street, a smart phone in someone’s hand connected to the internet or a pine tree in a forest - asking the viewer to think not only of the interior but also beyond the intimacy of the subject and the architecture, outside, in the world. Each title acts as a clue to the scene; 20th February, Berlin (with flu); 21st April, Farnham (with hub). Whilst the home still can interiorise a gaze, technology allows a constant window to an outside world. Like Loos, Blightman directs the eye towards the subject and interior but then offers an alternative view, outside. 23rd September, London (with toilet) is an image of the skyline of London on the WC walls of the Gatwick Express. It includes the Houses of Parliament, which you see when going to the toilet; there is no window.

Later in the essay Colomina writes about the breakdown between the inside and outside of Loos’ houses and goes on to discuss the home he designed for Josephine Baker, an American entertainer, activist and French Resistance agent who lived in Paris. In 1928 when Loos designed the house, Baker was 22 and the architecture very much excluded family life. The main feature was a split-level swimming pool making her (Baker) the ‘primary object’ [1] to anyone visiting the house when Baker was swimming. [2] The house was never built.

The difference in the designs concludes Loos’ opinion between the separation of family life and an artist’s life. As Blightman moves around the world documenting her life, as an artist and a mother, her modes of existence run parallel and split over many different levels. Inside and outside cannot be separated.

[1] Colomina, B. 1992. The Split Wall: Domestic Voyeurism Princeton Architectural Press
[2] Two relevant asides here are Loos designed Baker’s house the same year Virginia Woolf researched her lecture series Women and Fiction. Also Beyonce’s music video Sorry - a song supposedly about Beyonce and Jay Z, where she unapologetically shames his behaviour in the song and music video, which is taken from the 2016 album Lemonade. In this video Beyonce (along with numerous other references) is dressed as Josephine Baker.