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baggage and such

Posted in Opinion, Sex in Caribbean Art by Adele Todd on October 5, 2007

Susy Dayel’s wire corset

We all know the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The author concludes that men and women think differently. A male artist put the question to me recently, do female artists have a greater tendency to include their lives in their work? This question has the makings of a real man /woman argument. But I saw it as quite provocative.

Do women artists do that?

From Judy Chicago and KiKi Smith to Tracy Emin and Vanessa Beecroft. I was trying to throw a few caribbean female artists names in there for good measure, but found that I just could not do so at the moment. That aside, I answered my friend as follows-:

I believe that feminism has made the use of self by women in art a necessary tool for discovery and revelation. It may not be a predominantly female process, however women do seem to look inward more readily than men. We could say that it has to do with being female, having a womb and the whole nine. Women can be seen to be more introspective and sensitive. Women certainly have the habit of wanting to explain things, an acute attention to detail and a desire to fix emotional issues. That said, it is likely that the female artist finds points of departure at which personal comfort zones are breached, and in Art, it starts with an awareness of the self. At any rate, this makes the work a starting point. Just as the other post discussed race, sex is also one of the recipes for the process, and with it may come an inkling from time to time for women to embrace who and what she believes herself to be.

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One Response

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  1. Anonymous said, on October 10, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Yes, the sexuality and self discovery, and man and woman and wombs and testicles! But that seems to me to be the bottom of the barrel, or more like the scum rising to the top or the airing of dirty linen (do I have to mention the Emin word?).

    Which is not to say art should NOT be about that, but surely it should and often in fact is more – more generous, more magnanimous, more expansive, fulfilling its full potential, concerned with bigger things, and dear I say elevation us (that terrible old fashioned word!) to something more sublime than cum-stained sheets and the contemplation of ones own cunt or cock.

    Really, who cares how often you masturbate or wipe your ass when there’s the moment of standing before a Turner or Picasso (even at his most brutal) that is sublime and lifts you out of yourself, that doesn’t wallow in self pity or whatever neurosis inspires so much of this stuff.

    For me, the horrible lack of beauty in all this stuff. I know, I know – that old-fashioned age-old question, what is beauty and all that! But I know that in my own work- now! – I seek it! And it is for me what fleshes out and fills the best work to bursting and is what makes a piece of art ART, in the truest and most sublime sense of its fulfilling ALL of its potentials and possibilities. Why, often, it does what religion can never do and totally replaces it and makes it puny in the way it takes us out of ourselves and shows us the great things that life can be and often is.


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