Monday, April 4, 2011

Blog #7 (4/5/11)

“Women artists of the feminist generation differed from the women artists of the fifties and sixties most of all in the deliberate grounding of their art in their socialized experience as women and -the corollary of that position-in their acceptance of women’s experience as different from men’s but equally valid.” The idea of “de-colonizing the female body” took multiple forms in the feminist art movement. One of the ways was in how feminists artists and their art asserted a new position for “woman” in art, as subject rather than object, active speaker and not passive theme. Another form was through ways that artists such as Faith Ringgold, Adrian Piper and Eleanor Antin did which was to reclaim women’s bodies from the societal straitjacket of sex-objected through semiplayful exploration of dieting and fasting, ways in which social expectations literally shaped the female body. An example that comes to mind of how the African American artists we have learned about have “de-colonized the female body,” would be through the semiplayful usage of the stereotypical female “Aunt Jemima” which is a large, African American woman who is older, and works all day long cooking and cleaning wearing a bandana in her hair. The artist Betye Satar painted a piece called, “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, 1972. This painting was portraying the early images of Aunt Jemima, both the older full figured images, and the later thinner, brown-colured, wearing a less flamboyant head-tie, but nonetheless smiling and caring for the white children. This was a way to liberate and decolonize the image and belief behind the mammy figure of the African American culture. (pg. 201 AAA)

Another obvious usage of women artists decolonizing the female body is solely in the artist Faith Ringgold. Since the late 1960’s Faith Ringgold has used her art to voice her dissatisfaction with racism and gender inequality, and the absence of the black image and subject matter in contemporary art. (pg. 197 AAA)

1 comment:

  1. "The decolonizing of the female body" meant that feminist artists were attempting to "take back" the female figure, body and anatomy, and re-define it by their own standards. They tried to break through the tradition of the female body only being produced by men. Before this, men defined the existence of women, and the representations of women, so women didn't really have a voice. They began producing images that they weren't allowed to produce before, and showing the female body in OTHER ways, and showing a different experience of being a woman, and actually addressed female sexuality. I think that African-American artists could also use the idea of "decolonizing", and that they did. I most immediately think of African-American artists reclaiming the black body, especially that of the mammy figure. This was/is especially hard for African-American women, as there is a double whammy of oppression.

    In the 1970's feminists used the "personal is political" as a statement that women had agency in political, and through their histories, could see themselves as having a political viewpoint and outlet. An example of this can be seen in public art, such as the Wall of Respect for Women. It stressed that women were/should no longer be limited to private existence. In the 1990's, the meaning of the "personal is political" was a little bit different: it stressed that there WAS no private self, because there is no self that exists outside of social construction and conditioning. I think it's a very powerful statement because though it sounds trapping that we cannot escape society's conditioning and expectation, if the personal is political, then personal transformation and liberation is the same, or leads to, political and social transformation.