New Artist Statement….

My work explores ideas of masculinity and femininity in relation to myself, what these ideas represent, the differences between them and the dichotomies used to understand them. I feel that I am representing my own masculine and feminine dichotomies, my own struggle to express, but also hide particular qualities of my nature and personality.

I want to show the struggle of the inner and outer; inner being who I am; my feminine qualities and outer being how I believe I should act and how I wish I was.

I’ve decided to focus on masculine and feminine because that is how I understand and categorise the emotions, traits, feelings and roles that I wish to explore.

Firstly, I would like to explain how I see masculinity and femininity particularly within myself. Masculinity is logical, strong, straight, bold, fierce, sharp, hard, confident and brave. Femininity is erratic, changeable, delicate, touchy, gentle, sentimental, overwhelmed, and expressive.
Several points have brought me to this subject; my problems with anxiety and depression make me feel weak when compared to the strong, straight forward, brave way of my immediate micro society imposes on nearly every aspect of me. How I have seen and understood my parents; my mother was intuitive and changeable, and my father being logical and strong. And finally how the outside world can make me feel; I feel contained and restrained by how I feel I should act and how I feel others should see me.

In exploring this subject the focus on clothes and fabric is important, as they represent, or at least give clues to the inner and the outer. Deconstructing clothes takes away the form and meaning of the garment, leaving just the fabric and the masculine and feminine qualities they represent.

I have attempted to resolve my issues in exploring the masculine and feminine dichotomies by ordering this bundled confusion of ideas and objects into three streams of work. The Frames represent the soft, vulnerable interior contained by the strong outer, the silk organza is imposed by the embroidered dominant word. The Collages are a story-board of tactile adjectives and comparisons; I wanted to show how I feel contained, squashed and under expressed by the logical, concise, masculine nature. The Ties are my attempt to bring a more my own feminine side to a distinctively masculine piece of clothing.

The American artist Mike Kelley has inspired me with his work in the late 80’s, with his collages of stuffed animals and second hand fabrics. He describes these assemblage sculptures as ‘craft’; emphasising the time invested in each piece and thereby his disparagement of masculine art. Each piece is heavily instilled with emotion and history. Tracy Emin and Peter Hobbs use text and sexual ideas and imagery to show power and domination. My images; screen printed and embroidered on my ties are based from my original investigations on fetish and the body, through which I see myself attempting to be stronger and bolder than I feel. I also drew from Peter Hobbs’ essay The Sewing Machine Desire that talks about making objects that disturb or contradict our conventional ideas of masculinity.

I want to represent different roles, attitudes and ideals our society has on masculinity and femininity, as well as the combination of my struggle to show who I am, who I want to be and how I want to be seen.

Social Suicide – How Mens Suits Should Be

Earlier in the year I was considering working with and adapting mens suits. Inspired by Vivienne Westwood type tailoring, crisp lines, gorgeous fabric, the male dominance and exclusiveness. Social Suicide is a company which warps how mens suits are seen and interpreted. Designers and makers Simon Waterfall and Matt Grey, create suits with their own story, using new tailoring ideas, embroidery and printing.

The Shark

Armed

Bouquet

Jury

Double Ended Ties

Woman Warrior

During my studies, I have been thinking about how woman and men are represented within their gender and in using dichotomies such as weak/strong. I have chosen to analyse an image in which the female character was purposely designed to be strong. I thought this would be interesting to then see if the male characters were portrayed as weak and, if so, how weak compared to the females?
In Representing Women by Linda Nochlin, she address’ the role of the myth of woman warrior in seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings. I have chosen an example which she also uses to convey how the woman warrior was represented; Eugene Delacroix’s 1830 painting Liberty Leading the People.

Liberty Leading the People

This painting from the time of the French revolution used females as a vehicle to convey political ideas . A mostly bare breasted patriarchal female leads on an angry group of Parisians, over partly naked, injured and dying aristocratic soldiers. She has a passionate youth beside her and a distressed female looking up to her. Her face is determined, slightly worried, still soft, yet largely unemotional for the face of a classical nineteenth century woman. She has the soft skin, naked breasts and a dress of a weak female. But her pose standing above, looking down onto and leading the civilian men give her the other part of the binary opposition, strength. This is an image of a woman representing a dominant role, she has taken on masculine traits, and she is out to concur and led, not settle differences and heal. Liberty was purposely designed to express masculine qualities; in this painting she represents half of the dichotomy strong, while the injured, subdued aristocratic men represent the weak; an opposite when considering the gender binary opposition of weak/strong.
Gill Saunders in Joseph Kestner’s Masculinities in Victorian Painting recognised that the ‘nude’ is synonymous with the ‘female nude’ because Nakedness connotes passivity, vulnerability; it is powerless and anonymous so in comparison to the binary opposition weak/strong, the nude is seen as weak. Bram Diljskani in The collapsing Woman and solidarity Vice in Idols of Perversity; Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siecle also recognises the weakness that the female nude portrays; passive feminine eroticism is shown in eighteenth century paintings. In this painting it is not only the bare-breasted Liberty who appears naked, the dying soldiers in the foreground are naked below the waist, exposing his skinny legs and hinting at his exposed penis. This vulnerability is shown as humiliation and weakness.
Here Nochlin raises an interesting point that many of the images of the female warrior became negative rather than positive; images became irrational, hysterical and emotional rather than emancipated and heroic. The logical, concise warrior mould was not built of a woman. Ideas of warriors contain masculine traits courage, determination and strength. Female qualities tend to be negative, at least in this context; emotional, malevolent and also weak. In the late eighteenth century to nineteenth century, the male warrior is a valiant solider, a gallant knight and a classical hero.
In terms of propaganda, the image of the weak, irrational female became used to describe the enemy in Revolutionary politics. Although I believe that Delacroix’s depiction of Liberty was to represent the spirit and the character of the Parisian people rather than glorifying or attempting to inflame a political event.
In 2001 a Drug Company, used this empowering painting in an advertising campaign for their breast cancer medication; Taxotere . The tri-colour flag which represented liberty and freedom was replaced with the colour pink which has become intrinsically linked with breast cancer, through awareness campaigns. The guns, muskets, the dead, naked and dying have been removed and so have half of the gendered binary oppositions, weak. This “Leading the fight against advanced breast cancer” advertisement now contains a strong, powerful female figure searching for help and a cure against breast cancer. Is it the modern view point or the seriousness of the cause that has removed the ‘weak’ from this image? It can be said that this illness makes the sufferer extremely weak, but in these times it is also when everyone comes together for strength. This advertisement has tried to express the same feelings of power, hope and strength that the original painting represented. This advertisement wants to give strength to the weak female suffers of breast cancer.

Taxotere Advertising 2001

Even though the binary oppositions of masculine and feminine may become less defined due to changing attitudes and sexual equality in western society, there is still something taboo about men expressing feminine qualities and women showing masculine traits. This is even more apparent when fabric and feminine crafts involved.
In conclusion, we have seen how gendered binary oppositions are useful in breaking down and understanding meaning of sex and gender, as well as how masculinity and femininity are represented in popular culture. The dichotomy weak/strong has traditionally as well as stereotypical understandings with gender; many different things also make up how we see masculine and feminine, emotions, physical appearance, roles and actions. Gendered binary oppositions provide a framework to examine and reflect on these concepts.

References:

Article by Scott Tim and Stanford, Neil “Killing me Softly- Myth in pharmaceutical advertising” http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=535992 (accessed October 6, 2007)

Dilijskani, Bram. “The Collapsing Woman and Solidarity Vice in Idols of Perversity; Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siecle.” In The Gender and Visual Culture Reading Brick. 2007.

Nochlin, Linda. Representing Woman. New York: Thames and Husdson Inc. , 1999.

Collage

The collages are a selection of writings, drawings, fabrics, and found objects. This bundled confusion of objects represents my concept by grouping together scraps of different roles, attitudes and ideals of sexuality in society. It is made up of fabrics representing masculine and feminine, garments with sexual appeal, advertising images, my own drawings and samples I have made in attempt to represent my concept. These are working photos of my 3 collages.

Collage 2 Collage 3Collage 1

Tie Photos 2

I took some more photos of my ties on two differnet models, this time a created an enviroment and a context for the tie. I think in these photos, the tie adds to the personality to the scene and creates a distinct dialog.

Guitar Tie 2Guitar TieOffice Tie 2Office Tie   

Photo’s and Men’s Ties

Photos for Major.
Over the weekend I used one of my male friends as a model for some photographs. I wanted to have some photos of my ties in a social setting and see what they would look like on the body. I found that the ties look much better on; they have a new life to them and seem to represent more when they have a purpose. Some of the photos were taken in a cafe with a shirt and props like a coffee cup to really set the scene; others were taken on the bare body. It’s amazing that exposing flesh with the ties made them more feminine. The more exposed flesh the more feminine images appear. It depends how well the photos turn out if I will use them as part of my major, instead of developing the concept of the lining in my suit jackets etc.
I also wanted to take photos of sections of the body, both male and female to compare masculine and feminine qualities of both. Enlarge the images and play with the filters and settings in photoshop and use them as background in my collages. Let me know what you think…..

Cafe Tie 2Bondage Tie 1Cafe Tie

What is my work about?

naked cloth corset

What is my work about?

The roles, attitudes and even the sexualities of men and women in society are slowly blurring into the same ideals, even aspects of our dress are becoming more androgynous. Males and females are equal bread winners, equal and active roles are being taken in raising children, the boundaries and distinctions between male and female roles no longer apply in our culture. There isn’t a separation of male and female, but of masculine and feminine; expressions rather than classifications. The two distinctions are not bound by the two sexualities they represent, they are free to be worn and expressed by both sexes.
Deconstructing clothes takes away the form and meaning of the garment, leaving just the fabric and the masculine and feminine qualities they represent. Fragments of the fabric still reference its past; buttons, seams and pockets hint at what the garment once was and what it meant.
The images I choose to work with are a contrast to the conservative material/fabric that I use. I see the images as what’s hidden on the inside of the clothes. Even as it is becoming more acceptable express our sexual feelings and behaviour they are still hidden just as is our naked bodies by the clothes we wear and the fabrics we choose to cover them with. These images express the hidden, our fantasies and secrets that are covered by the everyday fabrics of our society.

Frames.

The frames use second-hand fabric which has been a part of society; used by members of public and had a role in representing meaning to others. The fabrics are conservative and by contrast the images are of a pornographic/erotic nature. Here I am trying to represent that despite what is visible on the outside, a concealed, hidden inside part of your personality is beneath. I have been trying to combine female images with masculine fabrics and vice versa, because I feel it portrays an interesting contrast. The containment of the frame, makes me think of a small part of the bigger picture. Like a snapshot of a society coming to terms with expression of sexuality.

Collages.

The collages are a selection of writings, drawings, fabrics, and found objects. This bundled confusion of objects represents my concept by grouping together scraps of different roles, attitudes and ideals of sexuality in society. It is made up of fabrics representing masculine and feminine, garments with sexual appeal, advertising images, my own drawings and samples I have made in attempt to represent my concept.

Ties.

Even as clothing becomes more androgynous, the Tie is still a symbol of status, male dominance and power. While trying not to change the shape of this phallic symbol, I am trying to change its meaning. Using embroidery and screen printing, I am redesigning the Ties with pornographic/erotic images. To make the meaning of the less powerful, more humorous, more accessible and able to be worn by anyone and to comment on society’s confusion regarding sexual behaviour and symbols.

Lining.

I want to combine masculine and feminine elements with the inside and outside of garments. On the outside is what is seen and how we are represented and on the inside is our private lives; free to fantasise and act truly ourselves. I will change the lining and inside of garments to represent a different quality to what the outside fabric shows, I am doing this through using prints and embroidery of words and images that tell a different story to the overtly masculine or feminine fabric on the outside.

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