Today we went to the Photographers Gallery to visit ‘The Feminist Avant-Garde A Radical Revaluation of Value. The exhibition displays art on everyday life and questions art history which excludes the feminist art movement and female photographers all together.
The work shown challenges how we view gender and domestic life, what is expected of women. Feminism isn’t just about women however but also how men are expected to act towards women, there have been several waves of feminism which each were concerned with different areas. Post-feminsm was mainly focused on how men and women behave towards each other.
Today in our photography classes there are more women than men, but a couple of decades ago this would have been the other way around. I feel that photography is becoming more of a feminine subject to study. There was a time however when women would be discouraged from contributing to any creative media such as painting, photography and film.
Penny Slinger’s work Wedding Invitation shows her dressed as a bride wearing her wedding cake and gradually takes slices away, revealing her naked body. This is to represent the wedding night which is linked to the body and pleasure. It shows the sexualisation of marriage but also the roles which men and women have in domestic life which is mainly presented to you through looking at your parents relationship which is different for everyone. There is also a power balance in a marriage where you have to decide who’s going to have what role in your everyday life.
The exhibition is split in three sections, the second part of the exhibition is about beauty, specifically the female body and performance. The female body can take on many persona’s when dressed up, we can become someone else entirely through make up and different clothing. This can be something to hide behind or to liberate so everyday life.
Today men too are becoming more ridiculed for what they look like and can be expected to have the ‘perfect body’ we see in magazines and movies.
The creation of contraception plays a major part in how women’s bodies are sexualised as sex becomes about pleasure and not just for producing life. In the 50s/60s movies, novels and images became more sexualised as women became sexually liberated.
Identity and gender, the women you see in newspapers, magazines and all over social media are always shown as beautiful, you would never see someone of front of a magazine who does not fit their criteria. Photoshop plays a big part in this as it creates the illusion that they’re perfect. Even wedding photographers now use it to make the bride look perfect.
All of the work shown doesn’t look worn, I found it all very interesting and unfortunately still links with issues we have today. When analysing the work you can use gender and history methods, looking at the context in which it was created. There were videos Letítia Parente and Martha Rosler, this was before digitisation so the videos are quite clunky but using this technology was more of a male domain at the time so it challenges this.
I would describe myself as a feminist and believe that men and women should be equal, I found this exhibition very interesting as it explores this methodology.