In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Help a blogger out

I need business cards. I’m trying to design them to include the Feministe logo and my contact information. Easy, right? Except I don’t have Photoshop, and I’m generally inept at design stuff. So, any design-savy Feministe readers want to help me out? I don’t think it should be too difficult, and I don’t imagine it’ll take more than an hour — I just don’t have the tools to to do it myself. I’m planning on using a printer (probably VistaPrint, but I’m open to suggestions) to make the actual cards, but I just need to upload the full card design. So I need someone to make the design for me.

Drop me an email at jill.filipovic -at- and I’ll email you the image and the necessary info.

(Please, please help me!)

New Seven Wonders of the World

christ the redeemer
Hopefully this is next on my list of wonders.

Are here. I’m sadly only 1 for 7 (2 for 8 if you include the only Ancient Wonder still standing). But I’m 6 for 14 on the finalists…

I Love Art.

Especially abstract art. Check it:

Exhibit A, Snowball Family

snowball family

Exhibit B, Black and White

black and white

Aren’t they awesome?

Lucky me, I don’t have to go far to view the artist’s work, because they’re hanging on my refrigerator. And new work rotates in all the time, because my four-year-old is always busy.

I admit I think my children are perfect. I do. I admit I think their artwork is marvelous. But I’m telling you, if I said Black and White was Mark Rothko’s latest piece, you’d have totally believed me.

And you know for sure it’s better than this total piece of shit from Thomas Kinkade:

Why does it always look like there’s a blistering inferno inside every house he draws? That’s not soothing. It’s terrifying. Save the baby, my God, somebody save the baby! The house is going to explode!

Frankly, I’m partial to Snowball Family. I like his use of white space. I like the off-center playfulness. I like that early 60’s retro flavor. And I understand the idea the artist was going for here.

A lot of abstract art is shit, though. How does it get into galleries? There was once an exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago that featured two TVs stacked on top of another, playing a video of a clown taking a dump and reading a newspaper.

I know some of you have seen this. I can’t be the only one.

The piece, called Clown Torture, really irritates me. Not only because it features clowns, which is across the board repellent, but also because the artist could not even justify what he inflicted on the viewing public. “Artists are clowns,” was the premise, or something dumb like that. I confess it was memorable, because here I am still talking about it, but let’s be fair: not all memories are good memories.

Last year I saw that damned Clown Torture in Vanity Fair‘s art issue. Ironically, I was sitting on the toilet when I turned to the page that was doing a puff piece on Bruce Nauman, the frighteningly influential modern artist who weaseled this craptastic idea into the Art Institute.

“No!” I shouted. “Not you, too, Vanity Fair! Why am I the only one who sees the artist has no talent! Why!”

Now, I don’t have an issue with conceptual art, exactly, but if you’re going to shoot footage of a pooping, newspaper-reading clown, you should try to come up with a concept better than “Artists are clowns.” I would have accepted, “I hate people and I want to punish you for existing.” That I can understand.

Take Christopher, painter of Black and White. Do you know what his concept is? It’s what he sees when he opens his eyes just a little bit. Each white splash is a flutter of his eyes.

Where is his exhibit, I ask you? His MacArthur Grant? Pooping clowns, indeed.

The piece across from Clown Torture was another conceptual dealie featuring 168 pounds of individually wrapped hard candy dumped in a heap on the floor that the public was invited to take and eat, one piece at a time. When the candy was gone, it was replaced again, and so it went. The piece was inspired by the artist’s boyfriend, who, at the time he was diagnosed with AIDS, weighed 168 pounds. The slowly disappearing candy represented his wasting away from his illness. The last candy taken represented his death.

I liked this very much. I liked being able to see that much sorrow and love represented in a big pile of candy.

What makes good art good? What makes it shit? And what exactly is it about Thomas Kinkade’s paintings that suck so hard?

Posted in Art

Women in Art

Apparently, women in art are all fair-skinned, sitting still, and posing demurely. Those women’s likenesses, naturally, are captured by male painters. I’m channeling the Guerilla Girls as I watch this.

Thanks to Chris for the link.

Attack of the 50-Foot Mikhaela


Awesome feminist cartoonist Mikhaela Reid has a new book out, and she’ll be touring the country to promote it. She’s a pretty cool lady, so pick up a copy or stop by to see her in the following cities:

Sat Jun 9, 4pm | Detroit: Mikhaela Reid & Masheka Wood Cartoon Slideshow & Signing @ Green Brain Comics, 13210 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI

Tue Jun 12, 7pm | NYC: Masheka Wood & Mikhaela Reid Cartoon Slideshow & Book Launch Bash @ Bluestockings Books, 1720 Allen Street, NYC

Fri Jun 22, 7 pm | NYC: Planned Parenthood book event w/ Jessica Valenti, Mikhaela Reid & Amber Madison @ Think Coffee, 248 Mercer Street, NYC

Sat July 7, 2pm | DC: Cartoonists With Attitude Cartoon Slideshow w/ Ted Rall, Keith Knight, Mikhaela Reid, Stephanie McMillan, Ruben Bolling, Jen Sorensen, Masheka Wood & more @ Borders, 18th & L Streets NW Washington, DC

Fri Sept. 28, TBA | Boston/Cambridge: Mikhaela Reid & Masheka Wood Cartoon Slideshow & Signing w/ Center for New Words (location and time TBA)

TBA October, 7 pm | Brooklyn: Mikhaela Reid & Masheka Wood Cartoon Slideshow & Signing @ Rocketship (date and time TBA)

You can read Mikhaela’s writing and see more of her work here.

As if his portrayal of Spock weren’t enough

Leonard Nimoy, photographer, has been studying the fat female nude for the past eight years.

And? He gets it.

He has a show of photographs of obese women on view at the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Mass., through June; a larger show at the gallery is scheduled to coincide with the November publication of his book on the subject, “The Full Body Project,” from Five Ties Publishing. The Louis Stern Fine Arts gallery in Los Angeles and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston have acquired a few images from the project. A few hang at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York. (Their explicitness prevents the images from being reprinted here.)

These women are not hiding beneath muumuus or waving from the bottom of the Grand Canyon à la Carnie Wilson in early Wilson Phillips videos. They are fleshy and proud, celebrating their girth, reveling in it. It is, Mr. Nimoy says, a direct response to the pressure women face to conform to a Size 2.

“The average American woman, according to articles I’ve read, weighs 25 percent more than the models who are showing the clothes they are being sold,” Mr. Nimoy said, his breathing slightly labored by allergies and a mild case of emphysema. “So, most women will not be able to look like those models. But they’re being presented with clothes, cosmetics, surgery, diet pills, diet programs, therapy, with the idea that they can aspire to look like those people. It’s a big, big industry. Billions of dollars. And the cruelest part of it is that these women are being told, ‘You don’t look right.’ ”

Mind you, he didn’t always get it. He didn’t always understand that how women were viewed in relation to body size depends on cultural factors, until he met a woman at one of his shows who wanted to know why he never shot fat women:

His enlightenment came about eight years ago, when he had been showing pictures from his Shekhina series — sensual, provocative images of naked women in religious Jewish wear — at a lecture in Nevada. Afterward, a 250-pound woman approached him and asked if he wanted to take pictures of her, a different body type. He agreed, and she came to the studio at his Tahoe house. She arrived with all sorts of clothes and props, “as if she were playing a farmer’s wife in a butter commercial,” he said.

His wife, Susan, who was assisting him, said, “No, we want to shoot nude.” So the model removed her clothing and lay down on the table. At first Mr. Nimoy was very nervous, he said.

“The nudity wasn’t the problem,” he said, “but I’d never worked with that kind of a figure before. I didn’t quite know how to treat her. I didn’t want to do her some kind of injustice. I was concerned that I would present this person within the envelope of an art form.”

But soon he relaxed into it, lulled by the clicking of the camera and the woman’s comfort with her body. He placed some of the shots in various exhibitions, and they invariably garnered the most attention. “People always wanted to know: ‘Who is she? How did you come to shoot her? Why? Where? What was it all about?’ ”

He decided to pursue the subject further and was led to Heather MacAllister, the founder and artistic director of Big Burlesque and the Fat Bottom Revue, a troupe of plus-size female performers in San Francisco. Ms. MacAllister died in February of ovarian cancer, but something she said to Mr. Nimoy in one of their first meetings struck a chord. “ ‘Any time a fat person gets on a stage to perform and is not the butt of a joke — that’s a political statement,’ ” he recalled. “I thought that was profound.”

And the reaction has been, predictably, a mix of admiration and revulsion:

“We do overhear some reductive ‘Is Nimoy into fat chicks’ comments when the gallery room is first entered,” he continued, “but in fact the fun nature of the work and the quality seem to shut people up by the time they leave. I’ve had a few crank e-mails with snide remarks, but not a one from gallery visitors.”

Hey! Sounds like the Salon letters section whenever something even passingly size-positive is posted.

Outrage comes cheap these days, and death threats come cheaper

Bill Donohue, head of the watchdog Catholic League, said it was “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.”

“It’s not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing — to choose Holy Week is astounding,” he said.

My God! What could it be? What could be making the little vein throb in the forehead of anti-Semite and professional pearl-clutcher Bill Donahue now? ONE OF THE WORST ASSAULTS ON CHRISTIAN SENSIBILITIES EVER??? MY GOD, MAN, WHAT CAN IT BE?

Read More…Read More…

Art Stuff

Don’t forget! The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art opens this Friday at the Brooklyn Museum. Which I haven’t visited in an unconscionably long time. Like, not since before they re-opened the renovated front entrance (which does look lovely; I’ve seen it from the outside, when I’ve been to craft fairs in the parking lot. Yes, I am properly chastened).

Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party
will be permanently installed (I *did* see that, on my last visit several years ago, when I was on a date for First Saturday with a Dutch guy named Hildo (and I’m sorry, I’m twelve years old and kept thinking of the obvious there, particularly since he kept dating me and didn’t even try to kiss me), but I had a hard time getting a good look at it, it was so popular).

There’s also a complementary exhibit drawn from the permanent collection, of ceramics done by women artists.

Plus, First Saturdays are a lot of fun. There’s always a band and dance lessons as well as a film (I saw “It” with Hildo, which is a damn good movie and a good look at how sex appeal was frankly expressed on film pre-Hays Code; Clara Bow even had a single-mother roommate). The other cool thing is that the museum is not only trying, but succeeding, in drawing a local and diverse crowd with these events.