Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Art and Gender at 798 Art Zone

I know I posted about 798 a while back, after my trip to Beijing, but I was going through my photos and realized there was some more cool art that I wanted to share, specifically about gender. I'll try not to ramble, but just quickly: in the past few years, feminism has had a big, big impact on me. It grew slowly, from taking courses at school and meeting people like Helen O'Connor and Alice Mishkin, who grew up with feminism in their lives & souls, to centering my film thesis on some of these issues, to reading feminist books and blogs, and working on women's issues documentaries, et cetera.

I get nervous when I talk about this stuff, because it begins to sound really evangelical. I start using phrases like, "When I found feminism..." and I feel like the word "Jesus" is just going to slip in there accidentally. But I'm sincere! For me, it was like something clicked - so many parts of my (limited) life experience suddenly made sense. Feelings I didn't have a name for suddenly had a name. Things that I just assumed were part of life suddenly seemed absurd. 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime? How is that a statistic that we're okay with? How is that not considered an emergency?

Okay, off my soapbox! (I think 1:15 a.m. is not the best time to write blog posts) Anyway, I find all these things really interesting, when not infuriating. 798 had some cool art about gender issues. One exhibit was a pair of photographs by Jeong Meyoon, a Korean artist. One was called "Tess and Her Pink Things." The other was called "Terry and His Blue Things."

Isn't there something both unsettling and pleasurable about those photographs? You can see more on her website, where she also notes: Pink was once a color associated with masculinity, considered to be a watered down red and held the power associated with that color. In 1914, The Sunday Sentinel, an American newspaper, advised mothers to “use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.”

The other piece of art that I liked was in a little gallery with only a few items, the main attraction being two large metal cutouts of the classic male/female shape.

Guests were welcome to climb into the shapes and stand there. The gallery owner helped me into the female shape, but I was too short for it, so it was really uncomfortable and awkward. The rest of the gallery was filled with photographs of people doing the same.

I thought it was a really fun and clever way to demonstrate the difficulties of fitting into a prescribed idea of "male" and "female." I got a kick out of it.

(Okay, I should go to sleep now. Ah, the life of a night owl. 我 要 睡 觉)

1 comment:

  1. http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/pinkblue.html


    A couple interesting links on the pink for girls/blue for boys topic. I had also been told once that it was Sears & Roebuck Catalog that entrenched the pink/blue idea into modern society. With the pink section indicating girls clothing and blue for boy's clothing. I'm not sure how accurate that is though. I know the Sears catalog definitely had a lot to do with disseminating information and clothing trend nation wide, especially with the ability to reach rural areas. As early as the 1920’s you can see girls in pick and boys in blue and it was definitely indoctrinated in society by the 1950’s.

    I can say, from research, I know that during the American Colonial Period blue is a much more common color in women’s clothing and pink more common in men’s items. In fact a couple friends and I have tossed around the idea of starting a program called “When Blue was Pink and Pink was Blue”. Interesting how society drills things into our subconscious isn’t it?

    As for me, blue has always been my favorite color. Is it because I like the color intrinsically? Or rather because I considered myself a tomboy growing up and therefore resisted and rebelled against social norms (i.e. abhorring the color pink)? I guess I’ll never know :-)

    Love ya Mags! Keep the posts coming! MWAH!