Look at me now.

So tom’s been giving me shit that I haven’t “done anything but bitch” about art and art history (he is not one to consider theorizing and writing in your sketchbook actually being productive… he tends to judge things by their physical results)

Anyways. I figured I should mention that I’m still working on my weird text thoughts having to do with the meaning of a repeated phrase changing where you break up the words (it sounds more confusing than it really is) so i made a mock up of what a page in my sketchbook looks like, since my phone’s currently refusing to do anything but use the key pad (aka the button to snap a picture isn’t currently functioning)

Is it embarrassing that I made a mock up of a sketchbook page just to prove I’m doing something? Probably.

Anyways, now that the proof’s out of the way, I suppose I can talk about what I’ve been theorizing about. So, I’ve been reading a sociology text book over my lunch breaks at work (Yes, I am aware how nerdy I am, which explains why I’m single) and its been causing me a lot of grief but also peaking my interest. One, its forcing me to come to terms with my hatred of feminism (more the stereotypical feminism that sort of makes me want to vomit on the extremely hypocritical stance some women take). So, anyways, ironically enough abbychristensen (another stereotypical hater) texted me about how she feels it is bad news she is falling into a f-hole (feminist hole)
I, of course, laughed, because we both made it a sort of goal during our studies NOT to be pegged as such (for reasons I will discuss later in this)

So we instead managed to get into a discussion about how some feminist work actually doubles as institutional critique but isn’t known as such. I sort of feel the same way about some (art historically defined) “homosexual” work. It’s almost as if regardless of what your work is about or for, if you fall into the category of a woman or a gay or a minority, you’re making “feminist/gay/minority based” work.

Which led me of course down the path of institutional critique and borderline weberian/marxist theory regarding social structures. Of course, art history as an institution is subject to the same sort of classificatory systems we use in other fields/realms, so it’s only natural to attempt to “divide and conquer” so to speak as a way of compartmentalizing and comprehending art history as a whole through the lens of a categorical system. However, we tend to use that categorical system as a “if it’s this, it’s not this” sort of way, and therefore can misinterpret/mis-categorize a lot of works.

However harmless this may seem, it of course needs to be structurally questioned. Is it possible that these works have all been presented in a way that make it a one-motive piece (what I mean is that if its feminist work, for example, it’s not institutional critique. when it very well could serve multiple purposes/encompass multiple interpretations) Moreover, is this miscategorization serving a purpose?

Does mis-categorizing institutional critique works that aren’t overtly IC, then, serve to decentralize the movement and make it appear much smaller/widespread/significant? For example, it is easy to see how one could argue that performance based works (which a great many of feminist works are) would critique the institution’s ability to contain and sustain the work. However, in a single motive classificatory system, if it’s performance, it’s not IC. By looking at these works, however, and denying their IC undertones, are you then serving to validate the institution? It’s no coincidence that the institution controls and directs the canon of art history. By minimizing the appearance of IC, is it possible that the institution is seeking to validate itself and suppress opposition?

Anyways, food for thought I suppose, if any of that managed to make sense. Now, onto my strange feelings for feminism. One, feminist movements, on the surface, tend to be a bit of a one liner for me (I would compare my feelings towards its surface as those of Rowley Kennerk for Eva Hesse’s “Hang Up” piece) I mean, come on… read about some feminist art and you’re bound to encounter performance work involving some sort of deli meat.

Also, of course this is more on the individual, but certain feminists I have come into contact with tend to get angered at those women who would RATHER cook/clean/raise children, be a teacher/secretary/do other typical “woman” work, etcetera, when the whole premise of feminism is rooted in a woman’s ability to CHOOSE in the same way a man gets to. Which just sort of makes me angry.

I also find it a bit irritating, as a woman minority (I’m going to start using the term minority now on, since this applies to non dominants across the board—non whites, females, homosexuals, disabled, etcetera) that I should have to “deal” with that in my art. I was constantly told that throughout college. “Melissa, you’re going to have to deal with the fact that you’re a woman sometime”—-um…WHY?

My sociology background would naturally cause me to rebel against this obligatory task. I always wondered to myself why the white heterosexual males didn’t NEED to address THAT sometime. I mean examining the world’s population, white males are outnumbered at least 10 to 1. I understand, dominant culture and privilege, trust me, they’re concepts I more than get and I know they don’t have anything to do with actual numbers, ratios and percentages. But I feel like me having to “deal with it”, that is, asking me to reconcile my gender/race/disability status/sexuality, in order to participate in a dialogue is like asking me to JUSTIFY my presence and establish credibility that is hampered by my race/gender/disability status/sexuality. To me, that mandatory justification sounds and looks a lot like OPPRESSION rather than encouraging equality.

I need to stop thinking about this.

MP

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2 responses to “Look at me now.

  1. hey! So i haven't actually read all of this yet because it's too many words for my brain at the moment… but I just listed to the most recent radio lab called Loops, and you need to listen to it! I think you'll like it. and I think it relates to your recent text work pretty well.

  2. I'll have to check it out. And em, you are the best for admitting it. haha most of it is based on what I always crab about and a convo with abby so you can probably guess where it's going.

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