Cristina NualART

Tag: Feminism

Drawings and Music for 2017

Happy 2017!

The beginning of a new year may just be another Gregorian marker, but it’s as good excuse as any to smile and get going. Oomph! Spanish feminist magazine Revista Píkara has published my gif of a fab fictional duet between two powerful lesbian voices: Big Mama Thornton and Lesley Gore. Switch between the two video links to hear a home-made mix of lyrics that intersect rather well.

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This simple animation is based on my drawings of lesbian singers Big Mama Thornton and Lesley Gore, two fabulous musicians who give patriarchy a piece of their mind. The original drawings were created for my artist book Sphynxation, which features 3 pages of the two divas.

 

Big Mama Thornton sings Hound Dog:

Lesley Gore wrote the brilliant feminist track You Don’t Own Me:

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Don’t tell me what to do, hound dog!

In this snippet of a drawing for a feminist art book I’m working on (coming soon…), singers Big Mama Thornton and Lesley Gore join in a fictional duet to give patriarchy a piece of their mind.

 

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24 hours to reflect on gender

I glazed this ceramic plate last millennium. It’s called Oppressed Woman.
Not all is bad for women on this planet, but it takes very little research to see that there is much gender inequality hindering humanity. Much of that inequality is invisible to many people who have not yet challenged how much of their own attitudes and values comes from gender biased ideologies. Whichever way you celebrate women, I hope that it brings you to a better place.

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El silencio en el armario

casoalcacer1998_80x80_cnualartTengo un secreto en el armario de la ropa que no se usa. La ropa que está siempre fuera de estación, porque cuando salen las prendas estivales, entran las de invierno. Nunca es temporada para lo que esconde ese armario.

Detrás de algún abrigo largo, donde más oscuro está, hay un cuadro que no ha visto la luz, casi, casi, desde que lo terminé, en 1998. El caso Alcácer fué el primer feminicidio mediático que me golpeó de jovencita. Me dió pesadillas.

Enfrentada al horror humano, una pila de vendas (¡vendas!), alambre del que pincha, y pintura roja y negra se ofrecieron a mis manos como chivo expiatorio del subconsciente. 20 años después del crimen, el repelús sigue vivo, también en ese cuadro negro coronado de rosas sangrantes. Culpo al inconsciente colectivo por la simbología demasiado arquetípica.

Me asombro (nunca mejor dicho – me extirpé la sombra…) de las horas de trabajo, moldeándo a mano cada pétalo, con plena consciencia del tema del cuadro, y ningún recuerdo del horror que debía estar ocupando mi mente.

Terminado el cuadro, participé en una exposición colectiva en el centro juvenil de la población donde vivía. Pero rechazaron este cuadro, y yo sabía que me lo censuraban. Igual que la verdad de lo sucedido, la pintura espinosa desapareció en el armario que apenas se abre. Y allí sigue. Cubriéndose de polvo como las investigaciones cerradas.

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Con otra obra, el mes que viene participaré en una exposición colectiva de arte feminista en Inglaterra, The Femail Project. Para que no todo lo que hay que gritar se quede amordazado.

 

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Joana Vasconcelos: hand crocheting and kinetic sculptures.

95_JoanaVasconcelos_photocnualartI saw Joana Vasconcelos‘ exhibition in Haunch of Venison a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn’t planning to write about it because a) I’m busy with major work, and b) this show deserved to attract lots of media attention. But having just come across a really badly written review of it in Fadart, I am compelled to say something. The easy way to say it is: GO! This is a phenomenal exhibition full of energy, joie de vivre and fun. Not only does it tickle your laugh-glands, it also provokes a good number on ideas surrounding the interaction of art and home decoration, the history of feminist art (Judy Chicago comes to mind), irony (a good post-modern theme to waffle about), cross-disciplinary practices (art vs. craft?), and the replaceability of contemporary art (see the dog-machine).
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Best of all, it’s totally kitsch. Tribally kitsch. And it’s impeccably hand-made. Any artwork that oozes skill is usually awe inspiring. Here, the sculptures tattooed in fine crochet will be admired by even those who actually know what a crochet needle looks like.

 

High culture art marketing in low culture spaces

Those of you in London some weeks ago may have noticed these adverts in the Southbank space were graffiti and skateboarding interrupt the train of high culture spaces like the National Theatre, Tate Modern, Hayward gallery, et al. Yes, it is contemporary auction house Phillips de Pury (in alliance with Saatchi gallery, of course) putting up posters on pseudo-derelict youth hang out places.
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I’m sure it gives kudos more effectively than advertising the village fair’s home-made flapjacks in Tatler… However, seeing as Saatchi was also behind the advertising campaign, I didn’t think hi-art branding would continue to invade our plebeian realms. But I was stunned this week to see a red bus go past me, well in the outskirts of London, with a large side-panel paid for by Gagosian gallery, to get crowds (is that what they want?) flocking to their current Picasso exhibition. I was so confounded by the sight, that I couldn’t even pull out my camera and take a photo of it. If you missed the bus, you’ll just have to take my word for it. If you do see it, snap a photo and let me know!

I didn’t think ads on red buses were anything other than for breakfast cereals, second rate Hollywood films and yet another mobile phone. In our hyper-saturated world of force-fed culture consumerism, I will, however, praise this ad:
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Body image terrorism

MUA, Museo de la Universidad de Alicante, has 4 wonderful spaces (usually showing contemporary art) that are always empty of people. It must be because it’s well off the beaten track, but the handful of times that I’ve been there since I discovered it (I think in 2002), have offered excellent exhibitions: Joan Fontcuberta, Albert Agulló, Damià Diaz and a number of other artists whose name I have regrettably forgotten.

All 4 current exhibitions are typically solid. Mulier Mulieris is the one I preferred. A yearly competition, some of this years’ works are not highly challenging, but the good ones made me laugh or cringe, either of which is what you want art to do, unless it wows you with aesthetic emotion. Rustha Luna Pozzi-Escot is the artist in this self-portrait as a make-up terrorist. Playing  stereotypes, she dresses up as a cowgirl, a samurai, etc. using lipsticks, eyeshadow and other cosmetics-in-plastic as ammunition. I’m very amused by the idea that so-called ‘beauty products’ can be construed as weapons so literally.

The next installation really made me laugh out loud. Sandra March’s La Silla de la Reina, eloquently subtitled ‘distribution and consumption of myths’, is a wall display divided in sections: art, science, politics, literature, music, etc. Columns of little packaged chairs, each in the style of a woman known for her contributions to the field, feature a humourous biography, a photo and a title. A toy shop would have many products packaged in a similar way, just not half as witty. From the Guerrilla Girls to Mata Hari, discover female wisdom dating back two millenia, and educate yourself with this mini-encyclopedia of herstory.

Yolanda Dominguez, in her work below, mixes the fun (sarcastic?) use of toys with the criticism of make-up as a constraint in the form of photographs that represent, she explains, the nourishment of education. These dishes of mock omelette contain hyperpink toys (for girls only!), lipsticks and all sorts of ‘girlie’ objects. Eat your eyes out.

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A harsher view of what being a woman means is given by Rosa Mascaró’s videos inspired by Tanzania, where the oldest known human footprints are found, and where sex slaves and female genital mutilation are also, deplorably, still found.

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Mothers

A couple of years ago my mum and I went on our first holiday alone, just us two in Malta. We had a lovely time and discovered a whole load of things that we’d never heard of before. Like Kinnie.

Like Sardinia, Malta is full of prehistoric cultural remains that you never learn about in school. I was amazed! There’s loads to do if you enjoy a spot of archeology between cafes and seaside walks. I loved the ancient sites: megalithic limestone temples, ruins full of unknown history, and, most of all, the ‘fat lady’ sculptures. Most of these voluptuous carvings were larger than life, but my favourite was a miniature ceramic ‘fat lady’. The picture below is of the life-size plaster replica that my mum bought me. As my mum knows, I’m not a fan of replicas or copies, and I’ve often pooh-pooed people who buy reproductions instead of getting a quality original from a non-celebrity artist (plenty of those are making good art that doesn’t make headlines – or need to), but I was thrilled when she gave me this little carving. My ‘fat lady’ now lives on my bathroom window sill and cheers me up for no explained reason.

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The original terracota’sleeping venus’ is looking good, even though she has lost the coat of paint that once made her colourful. She is now around 5000 years old and lives in the National Museum of Archeology in Valletta, and is said to be a ‘mother goddess’ figure. Since I only know of Neolithic culture what you can find in coffee-table books and Wikipedia, I can’t comment on the reasons and symbols surrounding her existence, but it really lifts my spirits to know that people have so loved the little sculpture that it has been carefully guarded for hundreds of generations. And generations come about because of mothers. If you live in the UK, Happy Mothers Day!

Femme daze

Late last year, I read a very funny article by Lucy Mangan in The Guardian, pointing out –in case you hadn’t heard because feminism is so hush-hush and underground these days- that feminism is not as cool as it used to be, and that female empowerment is sometimes confused with female (especially celeb) power(trips).

If you did want to research a bit of feminism, you young thing, or brush up your rusty knowledge of Betty Friedan et al, you delightfully informed more mature person, you might consider, as I did, going to your nearest public library to check out what’s happening in the underground, hush-hush, feminist scene. Then, if you discover, as I did in my local library at that time, that they DON’T have any books on feminism, then we must call another demo in which we can pretend to burn bras and do other pseudo-historical actions to protest for this new conspiracy to keep women out of the knowledge industry.

Yes, I was so stunned that I could not even protest, when the female assistant in this London library told me that they did not stock any publications on feminism. Instead, I chose to think that she didn’t know what I was talking about (‘these young women ain’t heard of such stuffy stuff’, I though in disgust…) and I proceeded to scrutinise the shelves in search for misplaced volumes. The worse part was when it dawned on my that she did, in fact, know what she was talking about, and that no feminist theory had a place anywhere in the library, not even in the philosophy section, or (oh, dear) in the self-help shelves of this public service! A new conspiracy theory is born.

I urge you to rush to your local library and find out if it stocks books on feminism, for my new personal research campaign. Oh, you may find, as I did, that ‘girl power’ does exist in public libraries, in the form of Gerry Halliwell’s children’s stories. Maybe the generation reading those now will one day have public and free access to other seminal works on equality and justice!

Celebrate International Women’s Day on Sunday (hey, it’s just for one day. The rest of the time it can all get brushed under the carpet again…)

P.S. On a subsequent visit to my local library, after I recovered from my shock – I was really aghast, I made a point of mentioning that in my humble opinion, not having any books on feminism did not reflect well on the public body. I’m pleased to say that a few weeks after that, they had two copies of ‘introduction to feminism’ type books on the shelves. Result! Moral: go girls, and ask for what you think you should be getting from the public arena!

Unless otherwise specified, text and images © 2017 Cristina Nualart

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.



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