Irreverent: a Celebration of Censorship

Readers may be interested to hear of this exhibition, which is opening next month at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York. All of the pieces on display are LGBTQ art works that have been censored in various ways by major museums and/or art galleries. You can read more about the exhibition and see photos of some of the works here.

Amazone

YZ Yseult is a French street artist. She has produced a series of beautiful paintings on walls in Senegal to honour the 19th Century warrior women who defended their country Dahomey (present-day Republic of Benin) against French colonial invaders. They were known as the Dahomey Amazons, which is why she has chosen this title for the series. YZ says: “I want to show warriors from ancient times; revolutionists, anti-colonialists, intellectual women who have written the story of Africa. We need figures to be proud of our roots, to keep fighting for our rights, and to write the story of tomorrow.”

Photo copyright YZ.
Photo copyright YZ.

[The picture shows a large side profile of an African female warrior wearing a helmet, painted on the side of what appears to be an abandoned building in Senegal.]

The Huffington Post has more here.

Seduction, Assault, and Consent in Western Art via The Toast

If you are not already aware of The Toast’s captioning of pictures from Western art history, it is a thing, and it is entertaining. You can find all the articles in the series here.

In one of the most recent posts, Mallory Ortberg pokes fun at what Wikimedia Commons has labeled instances of “seduction in art.”  She pulls out examples and describes how many of these cannot possibly be instances of “seduction,” unless by seduction we mean assault or harassment.

The piece does a good job of bringing out the cognitive dissonance from accepting “seduction” as aggressively pursuing someone for sex without their explicit consent, thinking that sex requires consent, and accepting seduction as a legitimate part of sex.

If you are not familiar with Ortberg’s series of posts on Western art history, you should note that some of these examples are more hyperbolic than others. She is framing many of these scenes as non-consensual where consent seems ambiguous. (Though part of her point may be, shouldn’t sex and seduction only involve people who are unambiguously excited about engaging in it?) Underneath the hyperbole and satire, Ortberg is posing a serious question: “Why does seduction look a lot like assault and not seem to require any real degree of consent? What kind of thing is seduction if these are what count as examples of it?”

She suggests, “Perhaps you have confused “pushing someone away from you” with “getting seduced.””

You can read the post here:

“Paintings That Wikimedia Commons Has Inaccurately Categorized As “Seduction In Art””

*A few of the pictures contain nudity.

‘They cannot change me’

This video is a nice commentary on beauty expectations for women in the entertainment industry. From Jezebel:

Here’s a striking video from Hungarian singer Boggie, in which her moving image is being retouched and “corrected” throughout the entire video. Directed by Nándor Lőrincz and Bálint Nagy, the three-minute video shows Boggie’s transformating from a lovely woman in dim lighting to a lovely, flawlessly made-up woman who has, judging by her glowing surroundings, been abducted by aliens and forced to sing for them.

 

Self-effacing mothers

Here‘s a fascinating article about how babies were made to sit through the long exposure necessary to have their portrait taken in the nineteenth century – mothers dressed up as chairs, holding them.

Here is a slideshow of the photos.

One question is whether it was always mothers – as opposed to fathers, or servants – who held the babies, or whether that’s something the journalist, Bella Bathurst, assumes.

Another point of interest, noted in the article, is that many of the photographers were women.

An interesting topic for an aesthetics class, I think.

A Beautiful Body

Go check out this HuffPo article on photographer Jade Beall’s project documenting the beautiful, un-photo-shopped bodies of mothers (there’s a slideshow at the end with some photographs from her series–it’s stunning).

“We are facing an epidemic of women who feel unworthy of being called beautiful,” Beall told HuffPost, describing a world in which “nearly all of us struggle to feel beautiful in our own skin.” And the expectations faced by women who have given birth are particularly harsh. “Shaming mothers for not ‘bouncing back’ after childbirth can cause feelings of failure when being a mother is challenging enough and when a big number of us have already lived a life of feeling un-beautiful prior to giving birth,” she says.

It’s also worth watching her video on the Kickstarter page for the project.