Rainer Maria Rilke
“Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand, placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
As an artist I don't have a speciality. I try to experiment and find the best medium for my idea, for my most recent body of work I have used a huge variety of materials, each one was chosen for a reason and felt like the appropriate thing at the time. I am interested in how medium changes or influences the work I am making; many art materials (or indeed, materials in general) have a masculine or feminine identity given to them. For example metal is a very masculine medium...and for that reason I chose to use it make a set of ovaries, rather than testicles. I enjoy the mix of masculinity and femininity I can produce in my work.
Here I used plaster to create a pair of giant testicles (although only one features in this piece). Once the balloon used to create the ball was popped it left a hole that I think looks like a vagina. I added the pink cord to emphasize that and create an image filled with juxtaposition. Male and female, testicles and vagina. Bleeding....
I've been playing around with layers. Using some of the photos I took last week as well as glass and words to create a box.
This body of work started for me when I made my first set of balls, some steel ball bearings inside balloons. Heavy, solid and life like. I wanted them to be about the weight and pressure that society places onto gender. How everyone is expected to conform and how difficult it can be to fight against that. They were a feminist statement at the beginning of my journey to the feminist I will be.
Using testicles as a visual stimulus has been good for me, it has pushed me outside of my comfort zones, forcing me to think and talk about art in a fearless and unselfconscious way. I am glad that I have joined the many, many artists before me who have made work using genitals...However. I don't want to be 'the girl who makes balls' and I feel like I am in danger of becoming just that.
My giant balls (above) were initially going to be part of a sculpture that would make them much more obviously testicles. As I have said, I didn't want to become 'that girl', so instead I focused on the weight of the balls themselves and how that communicated my ideas. I wanted to create a relationship between the two balls as they rested against each other, the delicate structure of the hammocks against the round expanse of the balls (masculine/feminine).
I also experimented with using a single ball to create a pendulum, I was trying to highlight the idea of gender as a thing that swings between male and female, collecting different part of each.
My sister Zoe is 12 years old, she is intelligent and interesting and beautiful. Over the Christmas holidays we had a conversation about feminism - I told her why I am a feminist and she explained what she understands feminism to mean and what problems she sees in the world. A week later, she sent me the above drawing, and a letter. The drawing shows a face, half a man and half a woman. As Zoe explained to me in a phone call, it shows that inside everyone we are more than just a man or a woman, we are a whole complicated person.
Inspired by Zoe and her letter I have made a pot. I used pink cord and coiled it with glue, the lid is made in the same way. Inside the pot is a piece of paper saying 'I am a person'. I am planning to place other things inside the pot - things that relate directly to either masculinity or femininity, perhaps both. I want the pot to represent another quote from Zoe's letter; 'The other day I saw a book called 'Why Men don't listen and Women can't read maps'. NO, NO, NO! Who's to say that Men can't listen just from a survey? I can read a map and I am going to be a woman!' Zoe just saw the title of the book (a relationship guide, rather than the anti-feminist literature Zoe interpreted it to be) and I love that it made her angry; that it makes her want to change something.
I believe that the first step is educating people so that they become interested and want to engage with feminism and the issues it is taking. I hope that through talking to Zoe and encouraging her to think about these things it will encourage her to be interested and to question the things around her that she doesn't agree with...In her letter she wrote;
'I think the reason I created what I did was that since our conversation Feminism has not left my mind. One of the things I've noticed is that it makes me feel awkward. During our chat, part of me didn't want to talk about it, but obviously I was persuaded by my other half not to worry what people will say.'
I hope she always listens to the part of herself that says don't listen to what other people say.
This piece is for Zoe.
During the site project I exhibited one piece of my individual work. (I also used this opportunity to make a short film)
I continued with the shape I have been using recently in my work (testicles) but used apples to fit with the fruit tree idea we were experimenting with in our collaboration. I like the juxtaposition of the testicular visual form mixed with the motherly connotations of bearing fruit. I am planning to continue with my work surrounding gender stereotypes and feminism, but am excited to look at it from different angles this term.
This term started with a mini group project: to find a space in the art school and set up a mini, one day exhibition. I was working with Lily and we decided to use the park as our exhibition space. Lily has been looking at how breaking or changing an object beyond it's initial function can increase it's value (whether literally or aesthetically). We decided to go with that as our theme and decided to 'decorate' the trees. For me the project fitted in with my interest in placing art where it will be seen by a wide range of audience. I like that a member of the public might be walking through the park and see something interesting...but might not necessarily realise it's a piece of art.
We exhibited three pieces together (above) and I did another on my own (below) which I will talk about in another post.