We have already written about feminist works, in which various aspects of female corporality are considered: from the purpose of the vagina to beauty standards. This collection contains ten performances about the problems of a woman's existence in society: relationships with men, her own gender, violence and “the place at the stove”. From Marina Abramovich to Martha Rosler - we talk about artists, their main themes and interpretations of their work.
Relationships, love and marriage
Marina Abramovich and Ulay, 1976-1988
Perhaps the most famous example of how the analysis of relationships within a couple resulted in a series of artistic statements is the story of Marina Abramovich and Ulay. If, before meeting the West German artist Uwe Laysiepen, Abramovich explored the boundaries of her body and psyche (inflicted wounds on herself; took drugs that caused catatonia; gave herself into the hands of the audience in the famous performance "Rhythm 0"), then, having found a companion and partner, she turned to what happens between two people.
In the performance “Relations in Space”, naked Marina and Ulay collided with their bodies, as if trying to put into practice the idea of the merging of a man and a woman in a pair; during "Relationships in Time" we sat for hours back to back with braided hair; in "Death to Yourself" they breathed mouth to mouth with one air literally until they lost consciousness. This went on for 12 years, until the artists realized that they no longer wanted to be together, but even their breakup they turned into a performance. During the "Trek on the Great Wall of China," everyone walked 2,500 kilometers to finally meet - and leave.
The works of Abramovich and Ulay considered "pure" relationships, beyond emotions and everyday problems. The reality turned out to be rougher: for example, in 2010, Ulay made Abramovich lose his composure and burst into tears by appearing at her performance "In the presence of an artist", and in 2015 and 2016 he sued her a total of 250 thousand euros for using their joint works for commercial purposes …
Found clothes factory, 2005
In this work, the artists Gluklya and Tsaplya clashed "two types of hope": elderly women accustomed to waiting ("a bright future", "a prince on a white horse") take away the scarlet sails from young seamstresses who decided to take their fate into their own hands. Two stereotypes are demonstrated here at once - about female passivity (“Guys, you have to believe in miracles,” the heroines sing) and the inability to show solidarity when it comes to fighting for men. The artists dedicated their work to the writer Alexander Green, the author of the image of patiently waiting for Assol, but noted that they sympathize with all the heroines of the video.
Judy Chicago, 1970
The legal aspect of relationships rarely became the object of interest of artists, although some of them got married and often faced legislative discrimination. So, Judy Chicago, née Cohen, by Herowitz's first husband, having decided to enter her pseudonym in her passport (and thus refuse to eternal belonging to a man - father or spouse), found that this requires the consent of her husband. Having legitimized its new independent surname, Chicago celebrated the event by showing up at the opening of the exhibition wearing a boxing sweatshirt with the words "Chicago" and placing an ad in Artforum magazine: "Judy Chicago strips off all names put on her by men and chooses a name for herself." …
The Mythic Being
Adrian Piper, 1973
In 1973, artist Adrian Piper conducted an experiment: dressing up as a man and imitating the stereotypical behavior of a black macho, she lived situations from her own life, but as if in a different gender. The series of street performances has been documented by numerous photographs and film excerpts by Australian artist Peter Kennedy.In it, Piper - in an afro wig, glasses and with a fake mustache - walks down the street, repeating a memorized remark (gradually a phrase taken at random from the artist's personal diary loses touch with her personal story), and passers-by try to look into her face, attracted either by filming technique, or by the discrepancy between the mustache and the female voice.
From the dossier of a dog's life
Vali Export, 1967
This is perhaps the most famous artistic gesture in the history of Radfem: Vali Export, famous for her performances about corporeality and female sexuality, walked the streets of Vienna with her friend and colleague, artist (and future famous curator) Peter Weibel in the form of a dog and its owner. In an already shocking situation, a special irritant for the bourgeois was the fact that a woman acted from the position of the strong in this duet, while the man got the role of "humiliated and insulted."
Anna Alchuk, 1995
A similar experiment was conducted in 1995 by the Russian artist Anna Alchuk with the participation of the historian of philosophy Alexei Garadzhi and photographer Georgy Kizelvater. 16 paired shots from the "Double Game" series depict several stereotypical scenes with the participation of a male and a female characters, each in turn being played by Alchuk and Garaja. This dress-up game turned into a study of gender stereotypes, which the artist discovered in her own actions: “I determined the mise-en-scenes, the setting, the costumes in which our characters acted. It was only when the project was ready that it became obvious for me that it was natural for me to present the female part as exclusively passive and the male part as active … Nevertheless, I consider this work successful, because in it the artificiality of gender stereotypes came to the fore”.
Polina Kanis, 2010
In the frame there is an artist trying to catch eggs flying at her with her skirt; similar to the Soviet electronic game "Well, wait!". The figure rushing back and forth looks ridiculous; behind the scenes is the one who fires her, forcing her to run with a raised hem. This performance is a reflection on the legitimization of male aggression, or, in other words, on the stereotype “a woman’s business is to please the one who has eggs”.
Untitled ("Rape Scene")
Ana Mendieta, 1973
Long before the Mattress Protest, Columbia University student Ema Sulkovich, University of Iowa student Ana Mendieta protested a similar case - the case of rape and murder on campus. Inviting friends to visit, she bared her thighs, which were smeared with blood, bent over, leaning against the table, and froze in the same position in which the murdered medical student Sarah Ann Ottens probably spent her last minutes. According to the artist's recollections, the guests simply sat down on the floor and began to discuss the crime - all this time (about an hour) Mendieta stood in front of them in the pose of a victim. Later, she developed the theme of violence in a number of works - for example, during the performance “Tied Woman,” she tried, lying naked on the floor, to free herself from the bonds, giving viewers the opportunity to look at a woman through the eyes of a rapist and listen to their feelings from what they saw.
In a sad irony of fate, Mendieta died at the age of 37 after a quarrel with her husband. The latter was suspected of murder, but due to lack of evidence, all charges against him were dropped, and it is now believed that Mendieta committed suicide.
"Place" of a woman
Semiotics of Cuisine
Martha Rosler, 1975
Standing in front of the camera with a face that does not express any emotions, the artist demonstrates various items of kitchen utensils, naming them in alphabetical order and performing simple actions with them. The heroine's equanimity contrasts with aggression, which is easy to notice in her movements: she rattles pots and knocks on the table with all her might with a meat hammer. On the letter U (consonant with the pronoun you (eng."You") the words end, then Rosler simply draws letters, picking up two knives. Parodying the then popular culinary host Julia Child (who used all kitchen utensils exclusively for their intended purpose and always with a smile), she raises the question of the frustration faced by women who are forced to do household chores not at the call of the heart, but due to the lack of any or alternatives.
A well-read housewife
Maria Chuikova, 1999
The housewife in the image of Natalia Abalakova was constantly washing, sweeping, cooking. At the same time, her actions were often meaningless (for example, she added the works of poststructuralists to borscht, and then hung them on clotheslines) and resembled a compulsion, turning the household routine into a neurosis. Philosophical books added comic relief to the image, playing on the stereotype that women who are busy with housekeeping do not tend to be interested in smart and complex things.
Photos: Amazon, Wikimedia Commons