From tapestries to knitted installations, a compelling new exhibition pieces together art that challenges the idea of ‘women’s work.’ In our December issue, we explore this thought-provoking display curated by Ernestine White.
In recognition of the 16 days of activism movement, which runs from 25 November to 10 December, we explore the life and work of four feminist artists from around the world.
La fille bertha: Italy
This Italian artist and illustrator has inspired the work of a number of feminist artists around the world. Her educational qualifications in psychology, editorial illustration and visual arts are reflective of a questioning, explorative mind. Her work is characterised by bold colour and a graffiti-esque style that lends itself to fashion design and tattoos. This art has graced a range of mediums from urban spaces to cars and paper. There is a subtle sense of defiance about the women she brings to life through her art – they are not stereotypically Western and they are beautiful, even sultry. La Fille Bertha is often asked to exhibit on Women’s Day and has taken part in many group and sole exhibitions in museums including the ‘La Triennale di Milano’ and ‘Arte Fiera.’
ambivalently yours: Montréal
Ambivalently Yours is an anonymous online persona – an artist and illustrator who focuses on the female subject, using art to express feminist convictions. The individual behind Ambivalently Yours is employed in the fashion industry and is unashamed of her love for the colour pink. Both these aspects of her identity as a creative bring a sense of irony to her work and reflect an outright defiance to conform to the dictates of society and its boxed-in stereotypes. Her art combines illustration and typography to make strong statements about society’s perception of women and more importantly, the views and opinions that women hold about themselves. An enigma who challenges the way we think.
frances goodman: South Africa
If you’re a fan of Frances Goodman’s work on the feminist front, you’ll most likely be aware of her ‘vajazzling’ series, where she adorned women’s private parts with little jewels in a bold statement on female body image and the notion of femininity. If you haven’t yet seen the faceless photographs of her ‘vajazelled’ subjects, please Google it. Goodman’s Work is revered for its sensitivity and inventiveness. The tools of her trade are the materials and labour of the beauty industry. One exhibition saw Goodman using thousands of fake nails to create squirming, intertwining sculptures. Other materials like sequins, pearls, false eyelashes and earrings challenge ideas of femininity and make subtle but effective statements on female empowerment and expression.
Tracey Rose was born in 1974 in Durban and studied Fine Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Today, she exhibits her work all over the world from Berlin to Spain and Mexico City. Her art careers focuses on performance but covers a range of other mediums from photography and video to installation. Since the beginning of her career, Rose has explored the notions of gender and colour, often through the visual motifs of her own body and body hair. Her work also challenges cultural stereotypes, particularly amongst Africans, women and African women. As a South African artist she has inspired the work of a number of local feminist artists and continues to make bold, resounding statements on sexuality and what it means to be a woman.
Read about the ‘Women’s Work’ exhibition curated by Ernestine White in the December issue of House and Leisure. The exhibition runs from 01 December 2016 to 30 April 2017 at the Iziko South African National Gallery.