One of the most interesting of the young artists coming out of British colleges in the 1980s/90s was Sarah Lucas. Her work is often self-portraiture and she works in most mediums. In general her work is a critique of life as a woman in the modern world.
Select and annotate at least four works by contemporary women artists, including Sarah Lucas.
How do these works relate to some of the theories and ‘isms’ that you’ve explored so far?
- Untitled (2014)- Inge Jacobsen.
2. A Girl Walks home Alone At Night (2015)- Ana Lily Amirpour.
3. Single room furnished ( 2000). Cecily Brown.
4. Two fried eggs and a kebab ( ). Sarah Lucas.
- Throughout art history ‘Western art replicates the unequal relationships already embedded in society’ (Tate, 1989). This artwork parodies how women are perceived as mere objects (usually naked) in historical art- The parts of the women’s body which are especially desirable to men have been transformed into inanimate objects emphasising their ‘consumer goods’ characteristic in male eyes.
- This may be also considered ‘Abject art’ , a term which includes reference to bodily functions and ‘aspects of the body, that are deemed impure or inappropriate for public display…’ (ref). The breasts and vagina here remind us more of lactation and menstrual blood flow- functions which may be far less appealing to men than their sexual alternatives. In this context it is a strongly aggressive feminist statement.
- Lucas often uses food to represent sexual body parts (ie. Signifier/signified). This is a feminist technique to highlight how women are degraded by (usually male) connotations between body parts and food ( eg. Chopped liver, Butcher’s window, bearded clam, ………all terms for the vagina).
- Perhaps this piece presents a Lacanian image screen or ‘stain’ (Haveland, 2009: 93)- here contributing to how men’s view of women as people is somehow separated by their strongly conditioned tendency to objectify and sexualise them (both socially and biologically enforced).
- The simplification of the woman’s body reminds us of the representation of women on the film screen, often seen as single bodily areas, more iconic, and breaking up narrative (Mulvey, 1999: 384).
- Alternatively this stark portrayal of the female genitals may make male viewer’s worried due to Freud’s ‘castration anxiety’ (Mulvey, 1999: 385)
- Finally, the representation of the women’s genitals by food may reference the idea that the pleasureable (scoptophilic) gaze is often likened to the eye as either a penis, or a devouring mouth (Fenichel, 1999) , hence the concentration on female genitals, and their transformation into food items respectively.
Benjamin, W.(1999) ‘The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction’ in In visual culture: a reader. Evans, J and Hall, S (eds.). London. SAGE Publications. p. 72-78
Berger, J (1972) Ways of Seeing Middlesex, England. Penguin Books
Fenichel, O. (1999) ‘The scoptophilic instinct and identification’ in visual culture: a reader. Evans, J and Hall, S (eds.). London. SAGE Publications. p. 381-38
Haveland, P. (2009) Visual Studies 1 Understanding Visual Culture. Barnsley : Open College of the Arts.
Mulvey, L. (1999) ‘Visual pleasure and narrative cinema’ in visual culture: a reader. Evans, J and Hall, S (eds.). London. SAGE Publications. p. 381-389
Textileartist (2014) inge-jacobsen-hijacking-image [online] athttp://www.textileartist.org/inge-jacobsen-hijacking-image/ [accessed 21/9/2017]
TheGuardian (2015) The skateboarding Iranian vampire diaries [online] at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/may/07/skateboarding-iranian-vampire-ana-lily-amirpour-feminism-porn-girl-walks-home-alone-at-night [accessed 21/9/2017]
TheGuardian (2005) I like cheap and nasty [online] at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2005/jun/12/art1 [accessed 21/9/2017]
Tate (no date) Feminist Art [online] at http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/f/feminist-art [accessed 21/9/2017]
Tate (no date) Abject art [online] at http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abject-art [accessed 21/9/2017]
Waldemar (2006) shes-laying-it-on-thick [online] at http://www.waldemar.tv/2006/04/shes-laying-it-on-thick/ [accessed 21/9/2017]
Two fried eggs and a kebab, [mixed media] [online] at http://www.saatchigallery.com/aipe/sarah_lucas.htm