“The imaginary museum”
An exploration of the portrayal of women in alternate realities.
My work has a tendency to focus on feminist issues, the body, and how women are often viewed as objects. I have created works that range in materials, but which all tell of the actions women take to conform to the expectations of the media, and the male gaze. I have also begun to investigate alternate realities and escapism through digital means. This work has centered on escapism through video games, folktales, and film. The objective of this exhibition is to combine these two themes, and address how women are portrayed in escapist material. In doing so, developing my knowledge and understanding of both subjects.
My intention is to create an exhibition that combines feminism and escapism. In order to do so, I aim to seek out artists that create work with feminist and escapist themes, such as Cindy Sherman and her ‘fairy tale’ photographs, and Cao Fei, whose work focuses on ways youth escape reality with video games, and cosplay. Escapism in art often has a negative meaning, suggesting that escapists are unable to connect with reality, and therefore the work is not as intelligent as work about ‘real life’. I aspire to change this idea, by exhibiting strong female roles in media, could it have a positive effect on the consumers? By displaying alternate realities that depict women respectfully, it could encourage equality in our own reality.
Feminism is having a substantial effect in today’s media, with ‘big name’ celebrities such as Emma Watson and Beyonce actively fighting for the cause. Geek culture has become much more mainstream, yet women who fight for equality in this field are bombarded with hateful and aggressive comments, as it is still an extremely male dominated band, that is fuelled by the male gaze. The video game industry is immensely popular, with a target audience of males ranging in age. Character design for these games has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years, with female characters being a minute minority, and often scantily clad. These bodies are essential to the theme of escapism, and have themselves been the subject of feminism and equality debate in recent years.
In order to create this exhibition, I will seek out artists whose work reflects the themes of feminism, and escapism. I will also research into how women are depicted in escapist material, such as film and video games. I aim to find material that is contrasting, but works well together in the context of the exhibition. This will consist of items that depict women of escapism from both a feminist and misogynistic view point to create comparable juxtaposition. This material will be sourced from various locations including websites, and magazines. Further research I intend to do to further benefit this exhibit and my knowledge of the subject will consist of practical research such as surveys, interviews, observations, and discussion. I will also undertake theoretical research through articles, archives, and literature.
Questions I wish to address in my research are:
· Is feminism still present in contemporary art?
· Does contemporary art reflect current issues relating to feminism?
· Is escapism a present theme in contemporary art?
· Should contemporary art question escapism, as it is a strong aspect in daily life?
· Can feminist art make a positive change in equality in contemporary life?
· Will questioning the current state of feminism in escapist material contribute to a change in the misogynistic fashion currently in the media and geek culture (which is becoming popular culture)?
I have chosen the name ‘Fairesphere’, a composition of ‘fair’ as in ‘fairest sex’ (women), and ‘sphere’ relating to a planet or world, in connection with alternative realities often used in escapist materials. As an outcome I will be using these questions to keep my research focused, concentrating primarily on feminism/misogyny in geek/popular culture’s escapism. Using my research material, and my own intuition to create an exhibition of artworks and information relating to feminism in escapism, along with a website, and exhibition catalog, and a 2,500 word catalog essay.
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