CONSTELLATION: Contemporary Art Lecture: POST-FEMINISM by Jon Clarkson

POST-FEMINISM

Modernism and Feminism

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Alexander Rodchenko, Make way for the women 1935 – Geometry symbolising fairness and rationality. There is a socialist/realist element within the work. Making a statement about men and women but from a mans perspective. Male photographer, positive image, portraying a solution to womens equality, but the women are still kind of objects for the men to look at, being seen through the male gaze. Womens action is at the centre of the image. Propogandistic intention.

If the photographer was a women, the image would be viewed really differently and there would be no thought of the women being objectified.

Questions of Identity

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Marc Quinn – Alison Lapper, Pregnant 2005 – It is a sculpture of a working class disabled single mother produced by a middle class able bodied man. Which of these facts is most important? He chose her as an image to sculpt. There is a valued place for women in the world. The sculpture has a heroic element. Bringing equality of women, people with disabilities and single mothers etc. Using language of classical sculpture to comment on the place of people with disabilities in society.

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Sarah Lucas – Get hold of this 1994-5

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Sarah Lucas – Where does it all end? 1995
What are the signs of masculine and feminine in these images? Feminine – Pink, red, lipstick, the opposition between white teeth and red lips. Look like womens arms. Masculine – Snarl, gritting teeth on a cigarette. Takes offensive elements of male culture and asks how poerful it is if a woman does it.

Post-feminism as a term, often comes up in the 1990s.

Feminism and Post-Feminism

Katy Deepwell – 3 popular mis-conceptions about feminism-

That Feminism = Women + Power
That Feminism = Bra burning lesbian separatism
That Feminism = is only a question of gender.
(These are only half truths)

Julia Kristeva outlines the 3 moments of Feminism-

Feminism = Equal Rights
Feminism = Advocacy of a separate women’s culture
Feminism = Total re-evaluation of Ideas of Masculine and Feminine

Equal Rights

One strand of feminist art avoided images of the sexualised female body because in the past these images have been objectified and exploited.

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Mel Ramas – Miss Corn Flakes 1964

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Barbara Kruger – What are you looking at 1994
In small print it says “This is not a mirror”. Targeting the women that look at fashion magazines, saying that you are not looking at what you should aspire to become, it is just another woman.

Another strand produced generalised images of the sexualised female body.

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Judy Chicago – The Dinner Party 1974 – 9
Strong Statement of the cultural status of women. All of the crockery in this piece is stylized female genitals. Falic symbols are normalised in culture, female ones are not as normalized and so she is putting them out there. The idea that Biology is destiny is hindering on Women. A lot of art uses imagery of the female genitalia within it. Is that all that women have in common then? They all have vaginas? Virginia Wolf is one of the women at the table here, aren’t her books and achievements more important than her vagina?

In the 1990s, many artists started using highly sexualised imagery again.

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Helen Chadwick -Vanity 1986
Tracey Emin – Self Portrait 2001
These images can be contrasted with imagery of the Page 3 model.

Pipilotti Rist – I’m not the girl who misses much 1986

She is using the language of titilation, but using video technology to prevent that happening. Wants to deflate through humour. Slowing and speeding up time up to get a state of conciousness. Pipilotto Rist is interested in an innocent sexual experience, a bodily experience. Her work doesn’t talk a page three language, more like a dream state.

Re-evaluation of Masculine and Feminine?

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Jenny Saville, Passage 2004-5
Collier Schort, untitled 2011

Is it possible to transcend ideas of gender in art?
Maybe in these images, the intention is that they are not labelled as a particular gender – equalizing man and woman?

Post-Feminism

This label remains problematic, it suggests that it comes after feminism and can be used in several ways:
– It comes after feminism because feminism has been successful
– It comes after feminism because feminism has failed
– It comes after feminism because it is the antidote to feminism
– It comes after feminism because it is the opposite of feminism
– It comes after feminism because it is the continuation of feminism
There is no definite answer and so the label Post-feminsim is still difficult to determine.

Nan one month after being battered 1984 by Nan Goldin born 1953

Nan Goldin – Nan one month after being battered 1984

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Sarah Lucas – Two fried eggs and a kebab – The male and the female rediced to sexual symbols.
Sarah Lucas – NUDS 2010 – Bodily experience

Girlie

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John Carran – The Wizard 1994
Lisa Yuskovage – Day 1999-2000
Does knowing the gender of the artist change the significance of the painting?

Lucy Lippard in Deepwell p.157
Does the fact that a woman paints a woman neutralise the pornographic source or is it still pornography?

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Lisa Yuskavage – Half Family 2003
This isn’t an image directed at men. It gives off a feelnig that is significant only to women. About the feeling of having a body, not what it looks like.

Masculine and Feminine

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Helen Chadwick – Piss Flowers 1991-2
They peed in the snow and cast the imprint. Some represent the male and some represent the female. The longer, more falic like stamens actually represent the females, this is because there is less movement in the female pee stream. Stereotypically we would think that the more falic sculptures represented the male so this piece is clever and interesting.

Images from the Bad Girls Exhibition 1993

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Helen Chadwick Glossolalia 1992
Contrast of Hard and Soft. Small Falic Symbols, Making a falic symbol in the middle. An image like this would be picked for an exhibition called “Bad Girls” because there is an appeal to the body, Tongues and fur. The togetherness of hair and tongue is often quite repulsive. We reject it without thinking about it. Unconcious Reaction.

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Before this lecture, I had never really considered issues of gender very deeply before. I certainly had not discussed whether the gender of the artist changes the way that the art work is viewed. I have been encouraged to think about certain connotations that certain materials and imagery has in terms of masculine and feminine and been shown how art can cause a divide in opinion. To me, it doesn’t matter whether the artist or subject n an art work is a man or a woman, I would consider the art work itself and the concepts behind it. It is always interesting to learn how art is used to convey messages or comment on a life situation. Within this lecture, we talked about whether Jenny Saville’s Passage piece equalizes the rights of a man and a woman, I can see the evidence for this opinion, but for me it highlighted the fact that individuals are scrutinised for being different in some way and that she was making difference accepted and depicting it in a aesthetically pleasing way, Similar ideas were running in Marc Quinns sculpture of Alison. Feminism has been portrayed in art for many years and it was interesting to learn how it has changed.

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Trip to London: Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Tracey Emin, Tate Britain and The Turner Prize

Whilst in London, I went to quite a few art venues and saw really great art and some not so great.

Anselm Kiefer – The Royal Academy

Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition at the Royal Academy was definitely the highlight of my visit. Not only was it visually incredible but it was relevant to the work that I have been producing too. The sheer scale of the pieces that I viewed in this exhibition was highly impressive. I have always been a fan of Kiefers work and I have never managed to see an exhibition of his until now. What I find most interesting about his w0rk is the wide range of media he uses and the unconventional mixed media that he mixed into the paint or adds to the surface of the work.

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anselm kiefer

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There are so many different textures and surfaces within his work and seeing it in person has really inspired me to be more experimental with mixed media and to maybe play with mixing unconventional materials into my work. I am highly inspired by the confidence of his work and I am hopeful that one day people could view my work and think it was bold and confident. Also, I am looking at nature and a connection to place and landscape surroundings and nature is a recurring theme in Kiefer’s work. I will definitely be revisiting Kiefer’s work in relation to my own.

Gerhard Richter Exhibition – The Marian Goodman Gallery

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I went to view Richter’s work because of how much I am interested in it, more than for my project work. However, upon visiting the gallery I came across some photographs that Richter had taken and had painted on top off. This strongly links to the pieces that I have made where I have added abstract shapes on top of my own photos. I had no Idea that Gerhard Richter was interested in Photo Manipulation and so this was a valuable reference to my work.

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Richter’s abstracts as always were visually interesting but I was very disappointed that there were no large works where he had dragged the paint across the canvas with a squeegee. I thought the glass effect with the paint behind definitely brought his work up to date and gave me a modernist feel.

Tracey Emin – The White Cube Gallery

I must admit that everytime I have been to see Tracey Emin’s work in the past, I haven’t been that impressed but this exhibition was completely different, I felt like she showed her true self, her experimentation and the things that she really enjoys doing and making. It was like looking into her artistic life and her drawings were incredibly gestural and influential.

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What impressed me the most were her large scale nude embroideries. Mostly because I don’t really enjoy textile work or sewing, nor do I consider myself to be very good at it. However, Tracey Emin had used the thread to make marks to make up the body like a fine art ink drawing.

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The Turner Prize 2014

In my honest opinion, considering that the turner prize is one of the most prestigious art awards around at the moment, it didn’t do the art world justice at all. If I was not a creative individual or studying art at all, I would have walked in there and thought the current art climate was very pretencious and have maybe considered the fact that art is no longer a skill that not everyone could do. I thought the variety of work was incredibly disappointing and definitely not explained well enough. After walking around the exhibit, I looked at the comments board regarding the turner prize and it was very difficult to find positive feedback which makes it clear to me that I am not the only one highly disappointed by the prize.

Visiting London was definitely incredibly worthwhile, I have never felt so inspired as I did walking out of Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition in the Royal Academy and linking Richter’s work to my ideas is incredibly encouraging. Undoubtedly, This trip will have an impact on my work.