I was at an art show last night that should have been entitled: “Dicks! Dicks! Porn! And More Dicks! Celebrating Misogyny For The Enlightened Hipster Who Might Feel Bad About It Otherwise.”
Which seems to be the current trend in the art scene. To be more accurate, it’s pretty much always been the trend in the art scene. It basically IS the art scene.
Don’t get me wrong: People can manage to create works of art that are what I’d call ‘neutral’ (they neither add to nor detract from the humanity of women), and some people, such as Georgia O’Keefe, can create works of art that I would call “positive” — but most of art (especially “great art”) is misogynist wankery. Most artists seem incapable of dealing with the human form or anything to do with human relations without delving deep into sexist tropes and heavy misogyny, which they do not examine even as they pretend to examine and pastiche.
The show last night was called “ART OF ATTRACTION” (gag me with a spoon already, google that phrase and you’ll get tons of articles glorifying heterocentric misogynistic practices, including praise for and how-to manuals from pickup artists). I did not read the abstract about it before viewing the art, and my notes on it were thus:
“Dicks, dicks … is that person posed with his arm up to represent a dick? More dicks.”
“Softcore porn. Voyeurism. Yet more softcore porn.”
“I bet dudes are getting hard-ons from this.”
“Nature, flowers … oh, a hand holding a dick. One of these things … not like the other.”
Then I read the abstract, which was something like “Art of Attraction delves into the global obsession with an increasingly narrow Western ideal of physical beauty … while presenting revealing images capturing sexual desire and attraction.”
However, clearly this mission was not accomplished, because I’ve studied both art and beauty practices and my notes were still pretty much all about dicks and voyeurism. Even after a second run-through, no deeper meaning revealed itself to me — except for a series of photos that had already broken my heart, of Korean women emulating Western beauty practices and the sadness on their faces; that series succeeded at least a little bit, because it made viewers feel a little bit uncomfortable. The rest simply reveled in the very topic it was supposedly critiquing, and provided fodder for both gay and straight boners.
Boners =/= Great Art.
So in that spirit, I’ve been appreciating this show: Non Solo, a project in which several of my (female, ass-kicking feminist) friends take part. If you feel like it, biff on over there and give them some backing (you can pledge any amount, even $1 — $10 gets you a zine and correspondence, and while the $50-75 is a sum, Margaret’s sculptures are awesome), or just enjoy the work. As far as I’ve seen, no dicks or softcore porn in sight.
As I wrote in my review of their exhibit: “Your show is like opening a window after a bunch of other people have just farted.”
It’s time for feminist revolt.