See the website for this call for papers which includes as a potential topic GENDER AND THE ARTS (including: the presentation of gendered performances, films, etc., as well as academic papers). The conference will be next April at Idaho State University.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
I recently saw a retrospective of work by Young British (and "Sensation") artist Sam Taylor-Wood at Houston's Contemporary Art Museum, and I was not impressed. Now don't take me for a crank who is automatically anti-Turner-Prize nominees or anything like that. I simply found the work rather dull and uninspiring. The scoop on Taylor-Wood is that she is dealing with difficult issues about mortality, weight and gravity, the emotions, reality and appearance, and so on. But this strikes me as hype. I'm tired of seeing female artists feature their naked or nearly-naked bodies in their work, when the undercurrent smacks of sentiments like "Look how trim I am" or "See me nude then clothed and try not to be titillated". All the moreso when it is an artist who has experienced breast cancer, leaving viewers looking at her nude body and reflecting sadly on which breast must now be gone. The most repugnant and silly work, I thought, was her "Leda and the Swan" video. First, these slow-mo videos have been done before, and much better, too, by Bill Viola, who showed a decomposing fish on a platter back before Taylor-Wood was even born. Second, the "schtick" of this work is that the nude girl (Leda = Sam herself) lies there sort of restless, toe-twitching, underneath a slowly decomposing swan. Just stand there and watch, your patience will be rewarded by some darkening feathers! Woo-Hoo!! This is great stuff isn't it, very deep, and definitely a zinger of an attack on the tradition of Titian. Well, but is it? What's the point, really? I find myself actually missing the sensuality and forbidden pleasure of the swan-on-woman theme. Give me Boucher, Tillier, Louis Icart (check it out, black swan), or the marvelous Rubens version. Yes, the images appear to glorify a scene combining seduction and rape, but they are great as art--they stimulate, provoke, inspire, disturb. Taylor-Wood--it's just ho-hum--how long will this video take before it's done? The work lacks both ideas and artistic punch... She looks like another ill-educated contemporary art-school student with no awareness of the great history that preceded her. Surely feminism can do better than this.