Week 4 Postmodernism in Art: An Introduction: New Voices: postmodernism’s focus on the marginalisedPresentation Transcript
Postmodernism in Art: an introduction New Voices: postmodernism’s focus on the marginalised
Judy Chicago. Red Flag 1971 Gustav Courbet The Origin of the World L'Origine du monde(1866
Feminism and postmodernism have emerged as two of the most important political and cultural currents since the 1960s.
Crises in the Representation of History Shift from universal histories to local and explicitly contingent histories. History and identity politics: who can write or make art? for whom? from what standpoint? Postmodern historians and philosophers question the representation of history and cultural identities: history as "what 'really' happened" (external to representation or mediation) vs. history as a "narrative of what happened" a "mediated representation" with cultural/ideological interests.
REPRESENTATION IS NOT NEUTRAL; IT IS AN ACT OF POWER IN OUR CULTURE. Craig Owens, 1992
Postmodernism:1. a critique of historical narratives2. a critique of the myth of originality3. a critique of the grounds of difference
Representation: Who is represented? Modernism began to be seen as sympathetic to a culture which was defined (and defined itself as): “Western in its orientation, capitalist in its determining economic tendency, bourgeois in its class character, white in its racial complexion and masculine in its dominant gender.” (Harrison and Wood, Art in Theory)
‘I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives.’ Lyotard
Binary oppositionsrational – irrational/emotionalwhite – blackmale – femaleheterosexual – homosexualorder – chaosWest – EastOccident - Orientcentre – margintown – countrycowboys – Indiansmiddle class - working class South – North nature – culture rational - irrational Postmodernism challenges the logic of binary oppositions
Discusses the gaze and the way the gaze subjugates the person looked at and by whom
Seen in the work of Freud, Lacan and later Mulvey
Allen Jones (1968) Chair The politicisation of women’s art practices in the 1970s and the development of theories about the way meaning is produced, semiology in particular, led feminists to a more complex appraisal of what came to be called ‘representation’ or ‘signification’ . That is how the representations of women are produced, the way they are understood, and the conditions in which they are situated.
“Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relations between women and herself. The surveyor of women I herself is male; the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object of vision; a sight…The ‘ideal’ spectator is always assumed to be male and the images of woman is design to flatter him.” John Berger, Ways of Seeing, Penguin, London (1972)
Changing Concepts of the gaze Considering the fluidity with which spectators, from a variety of positions, slip in and out of identifications and desires
Guerrilla Girls a group of female artists founded in NYC in the 1980s. This group appear in gorilla masks and attempt to expose the inequalities within the art world.
Portrait of the Artist with her Mother, Selma Butter (So Help Me Hannah series), 1978-81.
CINDY SHERMAN, ‘Untitled Film Stills, 1978
Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still #54 Sherman shows that to represent the self is to reproduce an already given type.
“One is not born a woman, but, rather becomes one.” Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1973) RroseSélavy (Marcel Duchamp) 1921 Photograph by Man Ray
Barbara KrugerUntitled (I shop therefore I am)1987
Representing the ‘Other’ and ‘Authentic’
After World War Two, a broad movement against racist institutions and stereotypes developed in many Western societies. Civil rights organisations in the United States protested against negative stereotypes of African-Americans and against institutional racism and discrimination
Sonia Boyce, From Tarzan to Rambo: English Born `Native' Considers her Relationship to the Constructed/Self Image and her Roots in Reconstruction , 1987
Adrian Piper, Mythic Being
How ‘Authentic’ is ‘Primitive’ art? Jean Michel Basquiat Native Carrying Some Guns, Bibles, Amorites on Surfari 1982
The arguments found within postmodernism suggests that there is more to the world than the western straight white male norm. Robert Mapplethorpe “Man in polyester suit” (1980)
Keith Haring and Grace Jones
“ As Europeans increasingly came to think of themselves during the nineteenth centuries as essentially and characteristically secular, rational, civilised, and technologically advanced, they almost necessarily generated an imagined Other that was savage, ignorant, and uncivilised” Errington 1998 p16
The “discovery” of primitive art by Picasso and Co. around the turn of the 20th century
Picasso, Sitting Nude, 1908Mask from Baule in Ivory Coast
Anonymous artist, South Africa + Picasso, Woman with Joined Hands
Whistler, Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Old Battersea Bridge (1872-77) and Hiroshige, Kyo Bridgec.1855
Conclusion: Power and Exclusion More than being a case of the ‘simple repression of one group of people by another, power is implicit in the way we come to ‘know’ the world. For this reason postmodernism, bound up with an ‘incredulity’ towards Grand Narratives and ‘truths’ is incredibly hard to define. To be marginalised is to be held apart from the ‘centres’ of knowledge production and representation. Multiculturalism, Feminism, And Queer theory are, for those reasons, very important aspects of the de-centralising process defined as postmodernism. Moreover, they might be seen to be only prominent examples in a much broader field of marginalisation.