The Painted Witch
Last year I read a book by art historian Edwin Mullins called “The Painted Witch: Female Body: Male Art : how Western Artists Have Viewed the Sexuality of Women”.
It made a strong impact on me as it confirmed and made very clear that art has as a patriarchal heritage as anything else in society. It also weaved in folk history and myths that always fascinated me. Especially the stories of “bad women” intrigued me. The monstrous, sexual, sinful “daughters of Eve”. It is so obvious how men have through history, not least through religion, suppressed different female powers by shaming them as sinful and dirty or mystifying them as dangerous and heathenish.
From this chapter I drew on essentially two myths/anecdotes, one about women allied with beasts and one about Rita Hayworth. There are several examples of female myth figures that are somewhat mystically connected with nature and a particular baneful part of it – often a beastly animal. One of those is Medusa, the greek mythological monster figure with snakes in place of hair and known as the “most horrific woman in the world”. Medusa is a powerful symbol that has been used in many cultural contexts, not least by feminists (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medusa#Feminism). Rita Hayworth on the other hand is a very real person, famous as an actress and very much a sex symbol of the 30s. It is said that the american atomic bomb that dropped on Hiroshima in WW2 was named after and decorated with an image of the famous actress. Sex bomb. Sexual power is deadly this communicates.
The Dream Faculty
I also read a fictional book about Valerie Solanas, “The Dream Faculty” by Swedish author Sara Stridsberg. This book also made a strong impact on me on a very personal level. I often recall some quotes from the book:
“…we are going to be the first intellectual whores of America”, “It is a political statement to always wear lipstick outside of the mouth”, “you have to go through a lot of sex to become antisex”.
Then there is The Cat – a character I came up with some time ago and wanted to bring to life for my Unit 3 project.
The Cat is part animal, part human. It has no real gender, age, social or ethnic background. It is a posthuman character that doesn’t lets itself be categorised by dualities as human/animal, male/female, black/white, old/young, bad/good.
To me this character is a powerful figure that stands outside of society’s norms and structures. As it doesn’t have to identify with anything it can be both bad and good. All those things that you blame yourself for as a girl, The Cat will not excuse itself for. It will like Valerie Solanas embrace being a whore, it will as a child, claim its space in the public, it is not afraid to spread its legs wide.
From all this and my own diary notes, I wrote a poem that I used as a soundtrack to the video Not a girl.
I plan to make this a trilogy.
- Not a girl
All move AFRICA Nike rockstar workout (REMAKE)
Let it go
For the making of this video I drew much inspiration by Keren Cytter. I had watched a lot of Jon Rafman and Ryan Trecartin before but it was when I was introduced to Cytter’s work was that I decided to go in a slightly different direction and focus more on sound, costume, framing and content than technological effects and illusions.
I had the chance to attend a talk that Keren held at the RCA where I asked her how she worked with sound. She said she scripted it all before making of every video, both visuals and audio so I had that in mind when I was recording this and sort of made the sound and the visuals parallell to each other.