Fran sent me an interesting article the piece Dial Down the Feminism, created by an artist, outraged at a comment made by her tutor. Inspired by the piece, I look at attitudes which made me angry.
The ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ phrase has always irritated me. Although I agree it is important to be strong and resilient, I also find encourages acceptance, without the push for change. My philosophy is to work between the two extremes - to calmly be angry.
Poverty in the UK is an issue largely ignored. The British stiff-up lip attitude (resilience in the face of adversity), expects people to carry on regardless of the situation. A person carrying on with a broken leg is respected by society, however women soldering on through period poverty, and appearing in public covered in menstrual blood would be a complete social taboo.
The piece is an exploration of period poverty, finding low cost alternatives to sanitary wear. Bodily orifices are the boundary between the inner and outer body. Julia Kristeva argues in the Powers of Horror (1980), that cultures create many elaborate social rituals focusing of the expulsion of unclean matter. Our ideas of cleanliness are intertwined with our ideas of social order – breaking these rules makes us an outcast.
Extract from Hamlet, as mentioned in the two posts prior to ideas taken from the speech explaining Ophelia's death.
This piece, inspired by Fran’s image of a pair of cupped hands holding a fish, explores nurture and protection.
Children’s toys offer protection, representing an imaginary friend, a kindred spirit or extension of the owner’s personality. The dress, already stained with pen ink, was stitched over with red thread to mimic menstrual blood.
The dreams and aspirations of childhood are replaced with the reality of adulthood. Low wages, job insecurity, extortionate rent and food banks, with little money left over for luxury items such as sanitary towels.
These photographs use the embroidery from Day 1 – but by treating the piece as a banner in front of a backdrop extends the meaning of the piece. I was really inspired by the placards created by Block I artists Peter Driver and James McColl, where placing phrases in against a different location add a new meaning to the original text.
The banner takes inspiration from the recent Women’s Rights marches across the globe, which I have only experienced through digital media (TV, internet and social media). The images are informed by modern methods of campaigning for social change, which still use traditional marches and petitions, but are made stronger by powerful images spread across social media.
At the Houses of Parliament – dissenting about government policy and protesting for change.
Banner looking from the Tate Modern, to the commerce district – dissenting about capitalism, the wealth of one group soars at the expense of another.
The image is inspired by Victorian artist George Watts, who often painted controversial subjects revealing the plight of the poor. The painting Found Drowned features the body of a women, washed up on the shoreline after committing suicide from Waterloo Bridge. Watts was making a comment about the double standards in Victorian Britain, where women were unfairly punished by society. Despite the prosperity of the city in the background, it has no place for the fallen women.
Referring to the prior post regarding Ophelia, which featured a section of Gertude's speech informing Laertes of his sisters death.
When recently watching a version of Hamlet, this section of text stood out considerably to me, for the choice of language and vocalization of the words. It stuck with me through the duration of the play and I thought about it over the next few days. I am looking /thinking about the text as an object, focusing upon the difference here between listening and reading. When finding the written version of the speech I felt to an extent disappointed by it, it didn't look or read how I had experienced a few days prior, the text in my head was nothing like what I saw. I intend to look further into the experience of spoken/ written text as an object and how it interacts with an audience.
These machine lace pieces are a continuation of the meandering from my ink and water video, but also take inspiration from the wonderful, cracks and lines, in Block III with artists Denise Kehoe and Sarah Misselbrook.
The samples are a more symbolic, exploration of blood using a vibrant red thread. The work could be made more gelatinous and blood-like through the use of latex or acrylic gels.
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down the weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with her drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious buy
To muddy death.
Gertude's description of Ophelia's death in Hamlet
I am exploring the Period Poverty and its relationship to general poverty...Lack...Absence...Without.
Historically women made their own sanitary ware from fabric and absorbent materials. Menstruation is a taboo subject in India and across the African continent, with women being ostracised during their period. Reusable sanitary wear enable these women to combat the stigma and gain back some control. In wealthier countries handmade sanitary wear is a growing trend, both to save money and reduce landfill waste.
A collection of material experiments explore having to manage without sanitary protection – using a range of fabrics, including cotton wool, linen and fleece.
Working from the stained fibres, this video explores the flow of blood (replaced with ink) on water. At this stage in the project I wanted to explore a range of ideas, from the literal soiled sanitary wear to something more abstract.
Symbolically across the globe, blood is representative of life. There are many metaphors often connected to war and aggression inspired by blood, ‘blood boiled’, ‘bad blood, ‘after your blood, ‘blood brothers.’ In Christianity wine and blood are interchangeable, while in China blood and water and complimentary opposites, the Yin and the Yang.
Despite the symbolic importance of blood, there are few contemporary pieces made with the substance. Exceptions to the rule include Tracey Emin’s used tampons, and Mark Quin’s Self – a frozen replica of his head made with his own blood. Real blood evokes fear and disgust; ebay considers blood a body part and prohibits its sale, while its perishable nature classes it as dangerous goods for transportation purposes.
Blood is associated with revolution, self-sacrifice and martyrdom; however in my piece I am subverting these lofty associations to explore the banality of menstruation. The sample is made from old, darned woollen blankets, to explore nurture and discomfort, scarring and repair.
Blood and menstruation is a key theme within my work, however topics of interest include....
Beginning the project by examining the ideas around an objects existence and its relation to a physical human form. Looking at how I can choose to explore these ideas and how confined the object has to be, thinking about objects in physical/ digital forms but also exploring text and language as objects in their own right.
Discussion with Rosina regarding the taboos of a subject and the existence of these ideas. Ideas which can manifest as an object, concept, feeling ect.