Saturday, June 5, 2010

on 'feminist art'

so it's another one of those perfectly good saturday nights, where i'm not out frolicking pantsless along the fdr drive. i am in fact a bit ill, literally without a voice; so i'm content to stay in and muse about some things that have crossed my mind recently.

last tuesday, yours truly was convinced by the sweltering heat to don a pair of hot pants. not really a big deal i thought, but it seemed to upset the order of things for quite a few male patrons on the subway. one particular scumbag (pictured right) saw fit to hiss like a lunatic and follow me around the platform spasmodically flickering his eyelid.
i hate when this fucking shit happens. it goes on all too much for my taste, but isn't usually this aggressive or perpetrated by more than one person at once. in any event, he didn't seem to understand english, or the nonverbal cues i was giving him to leave me the fuck alone; but for whatever reason ceased harassing me after we boarded the train.

shortly following this pain in the ass reminder that even in my own train station, i have no recourse for staving off despicable lunatic men.. i looked up and saw an ad describing kiki smith's work as part of a 'feminist art' exhibit sponsored by target. chh..

it's pretty nice of these major art institutions that have nothing new or interesting to say, to finally recognize that women are capable of making art, but its super annoying that they have this compulsive need to indiscriminately label them 'feminist artists'. by this logic it would be safe to assert that all artwork created by male-bodied individuals is inherently patriarchal and oppressive. while this is a tendency exhibited by most male artists in any event, i prefer not to generalize an entire group of people and would rather let the art speak for itself.
in any case, i'm just really at a loss as to how they figure biology can automatically give rise to a politic. just because these women have finally been legitimized through capitalist and institutional standards, their patience hardly makes them feminists.

feminism is supposed to speak to strength and liberation for everyone. it doesn't passively wait in the sidelines and it certainly doesn't apologize. as such, i just don't see it in these works they're so quick to say sport a feminist flare. besides, its absolutely infuriating to see women 'make it' in the art world, only to be relegated into these neat little packages that are made to turn their work into something totally docile and quaint instead of giving it the chance to take up the space men have occupied for so so sooo damned long.

it's also possible i'm being the asshole here, because i truthfully don't know where these artists align themselves and how they identify their work.. but purely as a spectator with a halfway decent eye, i retain that there is no correlation between feminism and the art adorning these spaces (maybe with the exception of the judy chicago piece with all the ceramic vaginas of women throughout history; but even that is a bit of an unimaginative stretch).
what i do see however, is that the directors and administrators of these programs saw an opportunity to prop up a group they have otherwise marginalized in order to turn a profit for a little while.. while effectively labeling them, confining them into a neat little box (pun), and eventually knocking them aside so they can return to the status quo in a couple months.

it would be ideal to have truly egalitarian throngs of cultural producers that can advocate for themselves and don't need the crutch of these bullshit labels to divide and speak for them. it would be equally as nice to be treated like a human being when waiting for the train, but it would appear as though both are a long ways off.

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