I recently made a shitload of art for my masters research (almost done!) . I made it knowing that I would display it on an anonymous website, because I wanted to see what would happen if I gave myself freedom from my regular identity.
Dada artist Marcel Duchamp made art under a female identity. That fascinated me. What would I make if I pretended I was male? Much younger? Much older?
And this might be a good time to give sensitive readers a trigger warning...
Recently, I came across the work of Jana Brike. I have a hard time looking at her art, it triggers a lot of my *stuff* but I still find it very compelling and beautiful. But you know, if a man made it, I would be completely disgusted, horrified. Only certain people are allowed to make certain images and not be judged. I do that judging very easily, but then get pissed when someone does it to me, and fearful of the implications.
When is that judgement warranted? I don't know.
If you've ever made art that goes outside of normal comfort zones, you've likely heard derogatory comments about your character. That you are psychotic (said laughingly) or other squirmy silliness.
One of my favorite artists is Ida Applebroog, especially her work that has shocking juxtapositions like this one. I have a monograph of her work, and was kind of disgusted when a therapist friend, who really should have known better, joked that Applebroog has some issues and must be pretty disturbed.
I'm bothered first by the fact that these are not (I believe) personally expressive works, but comments on society, hello! But what if they were personally expressive? We stuff so much, and it turns into weird naughty obsessions and titillations, and then huge judgements when we see someone dare to be clear and honest about how fucked up things can be inside and out.
Yet as quickly as I rush to the defense of Brike and Applebroog, I cannot stand Robert Mapplethorpe's portraits of young boys (not going to help you find a link to them either). Totally triggered by those images (actually I've only seen one, and it was in an art history class) and I totally judge them. I guess I am a misandrist. But those were actual human boys, not drawings or paintings, I think that is important.
But why can I be so generously nonjudgemental about the intentions of young, blonde, female Jana Brike, but not at all generous if those same paintings were done by a male artist? Does age make a difference? Will Brike still be "allowed" to paint such images when she is middle aged or older?
One of the things I so appreciate about the work of Michele Cassou is the total permission she gives people to paint their taboo images so that they can heal and connect with source. I guess it all becomes difficult when you want to show your images to the world.
And I guess I feel glad to live in a time when we can make wild art and discuss it without being burned at the stake or put in jail.