Posts Tagged ‘bettie page’

marina abramovic has an exhibition at moma in which two naked people flank a doorway and museum goers have to squeeze past the naked in order to continue on their way.

marina abramovic, although prolific and strong and innovative, makes my stomach churn. a huge part of her oeuvre deals with self harm and mutilation and nudity, and reminds me of feminist art where artists like carolee schneemann and orlan and others whose names don’t come to mind as quickly treated their bodies like objects to make it known that, omg, women’s bodies tend to be treated like objects.

Carolee Schneemann, Interior scroll

(thank you, artnet)

so then marina abramovic not only wants us to know that women’s bodies have been objectified but also that they’ve been abused. she sets up a gallery piece where the only way for her to travel from one platform up to another is by way of a ladder, whose rungs are actually knives with their blades up. or she carves shapes into her belly or cuts the skin in between her fingers or sets up a table with knives and blades and thorny roses and a gun and allows the viewer to use these items on her, any way they’d like. so now her body is, completely, an object upon which others can place their own motivations and instincts.

i like the parts of her art that force the viewer to come to terms with their own issues–the fact that it feels weird to walk by a naked person in a museum, for example–but the violence and extreme objectification are so hard to stomach. which is a good thing, i guess, because if anything should be hard to stomach it should be exploitation and violence and misogyny. and if art is a reflection of the world that produced the artist, then art like this is important and appropriate.

but then again, why are female artists allowed to objectify and maim when male artists who do the same thing are vehemently criticized as exploitative males? alexander mcqueen’s collections come to mind, because he was always getting shit for being misogynistic and angry towards women. it’s a fuzzy line between self-expression and exploitation. and what if abramivic and schneemann and the rest are just keeping the cycle of subjugation going? in trying to rebel and break free, are we just entrenching ourselves further?

this is a post with no point, you see, but i’m an armchair feminist and i never know what to do with artists like abramovic. i wonder if we’re too inundated with porn and pretty ladies for anything naked to not register as erotic, no matter how avant-garde the imagery may be. and maybe they’re all just trying to own their sexuality and womanhood and use it for their own means rather than those of society and culture at large–but then there’s no difference between schneemann and bettie page and ladies who make porn that doesn’t exploit. which is fine, but isn’t there supposed to be a line between kitsch and the avant garde, that is to say, between porn and art?


(go get em, bets)

i would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

[ stefanie ]


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