Womyn (2010)

Curated by kkrasnig
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This collection of pieces centers on women, or rather womyn (women devoid of men), regarding what womyn essentially are born into and what comes with being a woman regardless of race, nationality, class, etc. Something I’ve found to be intriguing is the name. Not only one’s first name, but also a womyn’s loss of her last name when she takes on a man’s last name. A womyn’s last name does not carry on, but rather dies with her. In today’s culture, a womyn, specifically Westerners, seem to be a collage of so many things, society feels they must be a “perfect mommy,” able to work, to be active in the community and to maintain their femininity. A womyn appears to be public property; so much is dictated on what a womyn is. Some of the pieces explore this feeling of a public body through the interactivity; with the interactive feature, people take control of the work, such as the public takes control of a female body. One work that catapulted this idea of a womyn being a collaboration, or a collage of various pieces is “The Patchwork Girl,” by Shelley Jackson, which is an interactive piece that when clicked on, different pieces of the girl are shown alongside text from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a piece which characterizes gender and identity. The first piece “World of Female Avatars” is an interactive piece that displays both a female’s statement regarding her feelings towards her body and a clip of a female avatar from online. Pink bubbles can be pressed to bring about new statements and clips. This composition brings to the forefront the relationship between womyn and their bodies. Culture has mutilated our view of what a womyn’s body, which can be seen online in places such as Second Life and video games. There seem to be no various body shapes for the female, just one simple unachievable Barbie body. Does the female body even still exist? The next piece, “I only have my name” is a project where Annie questioned who and what is behind a name on the Internet. She and four other “Annie”s were asked questions by people, who were trying to figure which one was the true Annie. As seen on social networks, people can have a different online image, causing a viewer to wonder who exactly is behind a screen name. Annie realized that her name, which she felt was the one thing she would always be entitled to, meant nothing online and does not define us. A piece that evokes similar feelings is “OneSmallStep: a MySpace luvStory” which investigates who we are on social networks, such as Myspace. The work cuts and pastes pieces from online together, similar to how many of us do for social networks. We feel that we can be anonymous online, we are content to “cut and paste.” This reminds me of Second Life, where an avatar is created, which reveals our desires and fantasies, what we want to look like. Again, rather than the feeling of privacy, a feeling of public property is brought to the surface. The feeling of anonymity is addressed in “A Flea Market Album” which is a few videos of various people explaining what he or she believes they see of an anonymous womyn’s life in an old photo album that has no dates, names, locations, or chronology. The womyn in the photos has lived a life, but who is she? She has no identity, a womyn lost in time. The people who interpret what they see have no real idea of what occurred to the womyn, they could be projecting or completely bull shitting. This womyn has become public property in this piece. A piece that discusses juxtaposition of privacy versus public is “Outskirt,” specifically of the female body. This work brings two feeds of a camera showing down a womyn’s skirt of her legs and feet, which gives a very private and intimate feeling in a public space. The shots are used to illustrate how a womyn feels publicly, “unavoidably vulnerable and unavoidably exposed.” The feeling of being a collage of various things is expressed in “Pieces of Herself,” reminiscent of “The Patchwork Girl,” which allows the viewer to click various objects, which include sound bites, and put them on a female body. Some of the sound bites are womyn explaining their feeling of being rundown; they have no place to escape or to be themselves. They are constantly on display: at work, at their children’s school, at their friend’s homes, even in their own home. Comfort is a luxury not enjoyed by many of them, as they are constantly being pulled in every which way. The last piece, “Knockers, etc.” is an interactive piece which addresses the topic of the female body, mainly, the breasts. Breasts are still somewhat of a taboo topic, and even womyn themselves do not always have a complete understanding of their own breasts. The viewer can click on five separate parts within the breast, which lead to opinions, stories and agreed upon information. By not having actual facts, this piece just reminds the viewer that there continues to be mystery and a shared public uncomfortable feeling with parts of the female anatomy. All of the pieces make the viewer question themselves- their body, their name, their identity. Who are we? Who are you?

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