View Full Version : gender politics and public art.
ive just started working in public after showing privately for several years. ive been chewing over issues of monumentality but yesterday i heard a comment that threw me a bit. it was that monumental sculpture was the preserve of men and that womens'
creativity is ephemeral and ongoing. this raises issues of opportunity to work in the public domain and what is deemed appropriate to be monumentalised ( i thik ive seen someone on this site use the term 'dead general' sculpture )
the placing of any public sculpture is a political act.
comments on gender politics and public sculpture?
09-28-2003, 05:33 PM
Don't forget 'dead queen' - we have many of those!
Public sculpture often has an underlying function. 'Apsire to this '(heroic figure), 'we are successful' (corporate abstract monster), 'our collective sorrow' (sentimental figuration) and 'we have culture in this dying town' (grab bag of local talent plonked in a park or roundabout).
Many of these functions could be seen as masculine. But luckily a more feminine aspect, that of nurturing (a critical visual eye) is ever present.
We live in different times. You never know, public art could change.
09-28-2003, 08:46 PM
Commenting, ... monumental sculpture was the preserve of men ...! Speaking strictly of the US, that sounds like something that might have been heard a century ago. Louise Nevelson, Maya Lin (possibly architecture, but great art all the same), Elizabeth Frink (British, to be sure), and many others I’m too foggy to name right now, show the falsehood of that claim.
On the other hand, we now have relativism and “diversity”, with the claim that any group’s art is as good as any other’s, so each group should be equally represented. Probably another quirk of democracy that will have to be accepted, for good or bad.
09-30-2003, 08:55 PM
Replying to your own posts probably is a bad idea in general, but somehow just putting thought into black and white opens the door to more thinking. This issue of diversity more or less is a reflection of the representative/nonrepresentative or figurative/”abstract” conversation that runs here regularly. That is, it really is an attempt by one group to create a greater market for itself by playing on differences.
The big difference with “diversity” as a subject in American discourse is that this term includes an ethnic or racial component. Separating that for the moment, it also can be seen as an update of the marketing of niche Western Native American art which began approximately in the 1920's or 1930's.
I believe it was the Rockefeller Foundation that moved this art from low-cost western flea markets to cachet big-city and tourist markets by showing the Native Americans better ways of presenting their work, and simultaneously by developing authorities who would judge quality of individual artists and by controlling the quantity of work on the market - they established a sort of “clearance process” which eliminated the weaker artists and which controlled both the quality and the quantity of work reaching the market.
Of course, that movement greatly benefitted a badly neglected population. How the current issue of diversity will play out remains to be seen. But all these movements include a more or less conscious manipulation of the public consciousness and public market. “All’s fair in love and war”, as they say, and maybe also in salesand public policy.
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