Bending Media: An Exhibit about Gender Constructs (2011)

Curated by abroshar
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Through the works included in this exhibition I wanted to curate a piece that spoke about gender activism and questions the very social constructs we follow every day in regards to gender performance. "Dyke Action Machine!" is a guerilla art project created by two dyke-identified womyn, Sue Schaffner and Carrie Moyer, in New York, NY. Together they respond to heteronomative ad campaigns and homonormative agendas (i.e.: gay marriage). They post their queered ads on construction walls and force the viewer to question messages presented on commercial billboards. Wheatpasting is their means of display, a very low-budget, D.I.Y. common good. As they post their images on the street, this type of street art highlights the problems with the homonormative agenda (gay marriage, queer consumerism, homophobic corporate sponsorship), which I find to be incredible and inspiring. The "Gender Anarchy Project" settles in the same nook with the "Dyke Action Machine!" as it is also a social, public art piece used to question what has become "normal" in respect to gender representation. The project consists of setting up a station outside of a bathroom where the gender sign changes in accordance to the body approaching the door. " It uses a proximity sensor and custom software for image processing." The project aims to recreate situations transgender-identified individuals face when choosing a restroom that's not single-stalled. It challenges the binary gender system labeling all bathrooms across the world and begins to address the problems it creates. "Deconstructing Gender" is an online, 10-question survey Andrew Ames is doing with their father. The art piece puts forth multiple questions that the audience "asks" in order to determine the gender of the subject. At the end no gender is settled upon and I found all the questions irrelevant to normative-gender identity. The piece spoke to me as a mocking of our binary gender system and how ridiculously we choose to categorize people. After exploring works that display the surreal connotations societies forces with what is "female" and "male" and ways to mock those assumptions, I found two pieces that took the normative gender assumptions and chose to go beyond the binary. "Pandrogeny" is a silent video that can be downloaded onto your computer that has overlapping screenshots of an individual undergoing cosmetic surgery to construct one "to a perfecting hermaphroditic state". The video expresses what's possible in our society today involving gender and gender representation. I thought the medium of film was very different that other projects I'd found on the site and the choice of silence gave the piece some sort of serene respect. As the piece questions the limitations of gender on a visual platform, it begs the question of what's possible today in self-representation? The last piece included in my exhibition is "World of Female Avatars". An internet art piece made by Evelin Stermitz, it's a click as you go. Sometimes, if you stay on the page long enough, will you see repeating sayings and images, I doubt there's an end. In the piece Evelin brings up societies oppression against womyn, sharing body-image stories, womyn-made art pieces, critiquing Barbie, and finally hinting to a third "sex". There's one blurb that reads "I am man. I am woman. I am another idealized body", which not only touches on the idea of trans-identified bodies but the fetishism that comes with. This art-piece breaks down feelings felt by womyn-identified in a virtual space that feels like diary excerpts. The incorporation of these five pieces into one exhibition is done to display gender problems created by the binary system. These are examples of ways that people are recognizing that binary and doing what they can to bend it until it breaks.

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