Dear Feminism series - new work!
The Dear Feminism series is new work that was to be shown in my solo show The semiotics of the dress in Nipaluna/Hobart in April earlier this year, but the show had to be postponed due to Meajin/Brisbane's second COVID-19 2021 lockdown. The work will be presented in January 2022.
dear feminism, 2021, acrylic artist's paint, oil stick, graphite, fabrics (gifted, vintage, found and new), heading tape, thread, 71 x 142 x 0.5cm approx., from the Dear Feminism series
The Dear Feminism series has been in the pipeline since the end of 2019. This body of work was going to be my Honours project in 2020, but I withdrew from the course just before COVID-19 hit. I completed the project working from my home studio. It uses fabrics that have been given to me by three matriarchs - my mother Coralie, my partner's mother Wendy, and my former neighbour Khrystyna who is a Ukrainian refugee. Other fabrics were sourced from The Nest, the women's community social enterprise in Everton Park that resells discarded fabrics and haberdashery that would otherwise be sent to landfill. Some fabrics were purchased new, such as the linen gauze substrate.
shot yourself in the heart, 2021, acrylic artist's paint, oil stick, graphite, fabrics (gifted, vintage, found and new), women's clothing, heading tape, thread, 71 x 142 x 0.5cm approx., from the Dear Feminism series
This series talks about how I'm caught in a double bind when I try to make art about women, and how this is a super political thing to try to do in the Australian art world. I'm trying to make political and activist art about treating women equally, from an egalitarian or humanist perspective. My reference artists here are Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Michael Cook and Raquel Ormella. The problem is that the art world (and university sector) is likely to see art about gender equality for women as either outdated (second wave feminism) or problematic (third wave/intersectional feminism), which means that while the gender equality debate for women is currently heatedly in play in public discourse (marches for women, parliamentary scandals, coercive control laws), artistic voices on the subject are essentially being silenced. Feminism as a philosophical movement is no longer able to incite positive change for all women. This leaves the persistent problem of gender inequality for Australian women effectively without agency in the art world.
shot yourself in the heart, install view
The Dear Feminism series appropriates the 1:2 ratio and design of the official Australian flag and translates these elements into textile banners suggestive of a patched tablecloth or tea towel. The open weave and neutral colour of the linen substrate are suggestive of flesh and skin, of clothing on a body. There is a deliberate engagement with the feminist art tropes of the domestic, women’s work, the subversive stitch, and the decorative, to convey the idea of the double bind I find myself in.
so let down, 2021, acrylic artist's paint, oil stick, graphite, fabrics (gifted, vintage, found and new), heading tape, thread, 71 x 142 x 0.5cm approx., from the Dear Feminism series
This year, Australia is experiencing a resurgence of media and public interest in the problem of persistent gender inequality for women. This may be the result of cultural recalibration prompted by the pandemic and the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement. I note that contemporary public discourse on the topic, as opposed to that found in the university or art world sectors, seldom references feminism. This reframing of women's issues from an egalitarian or humanist perspective is precisely where I place my practice.
I can't escape you, 2021, acrylic artist's paint, oil stick, graphite, fabrics (gifted, vintage, found and new), heading tape, thread, 71 x 142 x 0.5cm approx., from the Dear Feminism series
I can't escape you, install view
This series is my breakup letter to feminism. I am not a feminist – I am an egalitarian.
All photo credits Terry Memory