The Body Observed

During this weeks lecture we were looking at the body from the point of view of it being a social construct. Unfortunately I was not well enough to make it to todays lecture but after looking at the online powerpoint and researching into the artists this is the conclusion of the topic I have. The body observed is the act of looking and being looked at, this relating to last weeks lectures as I have been an observer of art during each class, therefore playing my role.

‘Womanliness as a Masquerade’ Joan Riviere (1883 – 1962)

‘Womanliness therefore can be assumed as a mask, both to hide the possession of masculinity and to avert the reprisals expected if she was found to possess it’

I found this piece of text very good to read, although not long it summed up her point. The piece may be written about herself and is a solid base text for gender and feminist theory. This text notes that woman can still be feminine – doing the housework, being a mother, a wife, a daughter in law, a woman who cares about her appearance and indulges into makeup and pretty clothes. But also can go to work in business and compete with males at work. This mask she is talking about suggests that women need to hide behind this feminine mask not to intimidate men in the work place.

Claude Cahun

Claude Cahun was a French artist, photographer and writer. Her work was both political and personal, and often underminded traditional concepts of gender roles. Cahun’s writing suggested she identified as agender.

Claude Cahun was involved in one of the reading we were given, written by Amelia Jones. Here Jones analyses her pieces, looking deeper into the masked heads and the gazing they are doing, there is meaning behind all the masks that needs to be peeled away.

Gillian Wearing

Gillian Wearing (1963) examines her own family by being photographed as the different members (sister, brother, father, uncle etc) in her 2003 series Album.The make up and clothing are remarkable and misleading – the viewer has to question which is the real self-portrait and what a self-portrait means. These examples are from her 2003 Album in which she explores her family through a series of self-portraits

“I was interested in the idea of being genetically connected to someone but being very different. There is something of me, literally, in all those people—we are connected, but we are each very different.”


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