The first week of the new year brought with it the passing of Eve Arnold, one of the first women to earn recognition as a photojournalist in the mid-twentieth century. Though she is perhaps best known for capturing celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Joan Crawford in rare, unguarded moments, Arnold should also be recognized for the political and social commentaries her archives provide.
For me, art isn't just about finding something pretty or intelligent, or wishing I could paint as well as someone else. It's about looking at a piece and knowing that it's taught you something and you feel better for having seen it. You understand the world a little better afterwards, and you can't wait to rave about it to your friends. Here are three lessons I've learned from artists that I'd like to pass on:
There are loads of photographers who take the body as their subject matter—hey, it's nothing new. But the women in this post made a point of portraying the body as something to be celebrated and combined with fashion, sociological thinking, or mythology. It's so much more than just snapping a photo.
Together, Andrea Blood and Zoe Sinclair are known as The Girls—an artistic partnership that has revolved around intense tableaux self-portraits, live performances, videos and installations. Along with exhibiting regularly in the UK, they've shown at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art and Milan's UNO+UNO. Whether they're taking on recognizable people and reimagining them, or creating entirely new and vibrant characters, you're sure to be drawn in. I wanted to quiz The Girls about their most controversial pieces, their future projects, and how feminism fits into the picture.
"There is no separation between me and what I photograph," said the artist Nan Goldin. This has never been truer than with the self-portrait that captures her injuries caused by an abusive boyfriend. Domestic violence is never an easy subject to talk about, but this image speaks volumes.
I know I've spent a lot of time on this blog looking at subtle forms of feminist art, but it's only fair to consider the more direct approaches, especially when they're as thought-provoking as Red Is The Colour. Be prepared to embrace menarchy, or menstrual anarchy...
Sophia Wallace is a photographer living and working in New York City. Wallace uses photography and portraiture to challenge normative assumptions about gender, race, and heteronormativity. I could probably write a blog post on each of her series, the photographs are so striking. Instead, I'll highlight a few of them and I encourage you to visit her site and browse yourself.
"My responsibility as an artist is to work, to sing for my supper, to make art, beautiful and powerful, that adds and reveals; to beautify the mess of a messy world, to heal the sick and feed the helpless; to shout bravely from the rooftops and storm barricaded doors and voice the specificity of our historical moment."
That incredible statement is by Carrie Mae West, who began taking pictures in 1960s San Francisco to document the political, and grew to make her photographs the political, taking on historical construction of race, gender, and representation.