Grown-up Girls or Naughty Women

The Choice Is Hers

Tracy Emin's 'I've got it all'

The politics of Feminism has its own interesting journey in the past decades. From the movement of Biological Feminism to Social Construction and Post-Feminism political and social feminists, in general, seek for women’s place in the world whereas female artists find their own ways to reflect and response to the ideas of femininity.

They have come a long way since Yoko Ono’s performance “Cut Piece” (1965-2003), where she sat passively onstage while the audience cutting her cloths piece by piece, to Andrea Fraser‘s “Untitled” (2003), which she asked an art collector to pay her $20,000 then she recorded they having sex in a hotel room and released it in a limited edition.

Judy Chicago and Georgia O’Keefe are good examples who explore womanhood in forms that relate to their biological gender, tending to be soft and open than whereas guys mostly do something hard and aggressive. On the other hand, Barbara Kruger and Sophie Calle observe women’s role in social construction terms.

But when the old feminism is getting too close to far-right movement and seems to be used as a tool to control women rather than liberate them, Annie Sprinkle goes step ahead with Post Porn Manifesto. It advocates women to enjoy and embrace sex and their sexuality. Post-Feminism debates further than its predecessors that women can empower themselves and have the control of their own bodies and their own lives. Madonna is the leader in this study.

Here are some of the diverse visual artists who explore the relationship of women and the contemporary world: Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas, Rita Ackermann, Nikki S. Lee, Cecily Brown, Kara Walker, Beatriz Milhazes, Mariko Mori, Vanessa Beecroft and Jenny Saville.

This could go along with Judith Butler‘s theory. That is your self-esteem is the echoes of something around you. The way we dress and talk responses to the feedback to you. And you reconstruct yourself all the time. You can be a different person everyday and play a game or a role with others. So women can absolutely change and choose to be who they are.

This essay is a part of Critical Response Files for Art after Postmodernism class, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales.