Untitled (We Must Call Her Beautiful) Installation, 2015
My goal with this installation was to create something that was beautiful and talked about female-ness but did not represent female bodies in a sexualized way. While working in my sketchbook, the motif of the flower representing femininity kept re-surfacing and I began to work with it in conjunction with the eye to represent gaze. The male gaze is insidious: it permeates all forms of media, to the point that women’s gaze has been usurped and we have forgotten how to look at ourselves as anything but a sexual object.
The wall text: "We must call her beautiful / or say nothing at all,” refers to the way that our language about women is reduced by the male gaze. It’s difficult to talk about women without commenting on their looks, because we’ve been trained to hold a woman’s appearance in high regard. There is an insistence on complimenting women on how they look, and very little else. This functions to make a woman’s self-worth dependent on her appearance. Her existence then becomes precarious, dependant on other people (read: men) to validate her and confirm her (false) subjectivity.
In the last year of my BFA I was given a studio space to work out of at school. During the winter semester, the walls of this space became part of my project. At the end of the year, however, I had to return them to the way I had found them.