18 October 2011

Next After This Post #2

Just a heads up, this essay is a little racier than my last one!

Mummified Barbies, 1991-present, Barbies and various other mediums

June Cleaver would not approve of this post.

E.V. Day was born in New York in 1967. There was a lot going on in New York in 1967. PBS was created, Andy Warhol was working in “The Factory”, and Rolling Stone magazine had just been created. Things were happening. Possibly more significant than Rolling Stone, feminism was happening. Women had already gained some legal ground, and were starting to work on gaining social ground. E.V. Day grew up in a time when women were trying to be more than just “things”.

Since graduating from Yale University in 1995 with a Masters of Fine Art in Sculpture, Day has been busy exhibiting work almost every consecutive year. She has a lot to say and the work to prove it. Her work focuses on women and all of the negative things they encounter on a day-to-day basis. Most of these pieces focus on trying to distinguish what makes a woman feel sexy versus what men think is sexy.
“I think lingerie, too, is more about male ideals about femininity. To me it is a question of how to frame these things in a way that’s empowering instead of being dominated by them. I’m interested in ideas of feminine wile and how men can feel so threatened by it.” 
Day often takes items that are considered ├╝ber femininely sexual in popular culture and tries to underplay the sexuality of the piece. “Mummified Barbies” is a piece in which Barbies were wrapped, or mummified, in various fabrics and mediums. Day thinks that Barbies are grossly unrealistic and are toxic to how women view their bodies. Yet men find them attractive, even though if Barbie were a real person she would be over six feet tall and wouldn’t have human proportions. Day is not trying to say that women should wear sweats all of the time and try to be completely unsexy, just that they should own their bodies. Be in control of the situation.
Bombshell, 2000
In her “Couture Explosion” work, Day took different kinds of ball gowns and blew them up. Ok, maybe she cut them up, but the dresses are installed as if they are suspended in space after being blown up. Day has admitted that she is not a dress wearing kind of gal, but she did not set out to exact revenge on dresses through these pieces. Earlier in her career, she saw other women artists gaining attention because they were attractive. She says, “I felt fed up and got this idea that I wanted to blow up a party dress,” even though she admits that “being a size 34 DD since high school has informed my awareness of being considered ‘attractive.” She wants art to be treated equally in the art world, no matter how well endowed someone is. So, she took to one of the most basic forms of femininity, the dress, to express her anger at the inequality
G-Force, 2001, 200 suspended thongs
On a lighter note, the installation “G-Force” is a collection of flying thongs. Unlike the dresses, the thongs are fully intact when installed into their flying formations. After living through a time when women would wear their thongs stretched up, over their pant waistbands in order to bring attention to their derrieres, Day found herself feeling sorry for the trapped underwear: “The hiked up waistbands looked like wings ready to fly out of their bands.” Even though she felt sorry for the undergarments, Day was proud of the women, saying, “It seemed a bold statement by women about having control of their sexuality.” As for the name of the piece, the thongs are displayed in flight patterns, much like military planes. “G-Force” is also a nod to the female g-spot. This flight of underwear mimics what those underwear fashionistas were trying to say: men should respect women’s physical needs as much as they do their own.

While her works portray her as a roaring lioness feminist possibly out to destroy mankind, in her rare interviews, Day seems calm and level headed. Feminist art work has been done before, but Day has taken and continues to take an interesting approach to expressing her frustrations about others' view of what women should be.

-Julie Morrison

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