Bowworing from, Gloria Jean Watkins (born September 25, 1952), better known by the pen namebell hooks, is an Americanauthor, feminist, and social activist. From Alison Pearlman’s, Unpacking the Art of the 1980s: ‘As a heel’ suggests Basquiat’s inflected gaze – at himself. Seen from the ‘back view emphasises this proposition. .Alison Pearlman calls some of these techniques ‘filtering techniques’, meaning that his representations seem to suggest ways of representing people as seen through other people’s eyes.
His obsessive labelling is reflects a concern with categorizations. Here we have a semi-scientific system. Lines, numbers, points... The name of a Planet. Study of the male torso also reflect anatomoy. The red symbol next to notary is a seal. It’s not that he’s validating his work, but almost pointing to the fact that these systems are validated, made legitimate.In his work words are scored through but left in place, being both present and absent, but drawing our attention to additional decision making.He also tends to use the copyright symbol.
Alluding to criminal activities this work seems to be about the representation of delinquents, this time filtered through the gaze of Hollywood. This brings attention to ‘graffiti’, itself a criminal act. We’re also given the date 1940, an extra filter. This is when gangster movies we big in Hollywood – alluding the genre’s and construction of character types.Pearlman sees the line as being symbolic. ‘Gangsterism’ is seperated. Below the line is a price tag 200 yen – this is reapeated above, suggesting that on both sides of this line is an equivalent ecomony. The suggestion of star status and celebrity is also related to graffiti.‘Sugar Cane’ cocaine... Tax free... White line.
The Series/Volume numbers suggest that colonization is a recurring theme.The gesture of the figure on the left seems ambiguous. It could be aggressive throwing of the crate or a sign of surrender.The title of the painting seems false.The letter S is turned here into dollar signs.The gun is also placed next to the tusks and skins, alligning it to hunting and trade, tying together commerce and violence.Hooks says that it is “the content of his work that serves as a barrier, challenging the Eurocentric gaze that commodifies, appropriates and celebrates.” p. 29.Hooks has also made a point of the fleshiness of black figures in Basquiat’s work as an indicator of pain. They’re often seemingly disintegrating or lacerated.
GG (est NY 1985) Work 1988.Paid to have this advertised in Artforum.
Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party (1979)Has become a kind of nexus in discourses about feminism and art in general.For formalist critics hailing from modernism (Hilton Kramer for example) the dinner party was an example of kitsch. It’s garish colours seemingly a popularist, and sentimental rather than seriously aesthetic. It brought together crafts, such as ceramics and emboidery, with ‘high-art’ which also seemed base. To some critics (Robert Hughes) it was overly ideological and the vaginal imagery was tied to a certain vulgarity.For others, Dinner Party was a celebration of women’s experiences. A celebration of female figures who had been neglected from history and a representation of the embodied experiences as well as an elevation of feminine crafts – this being an installation travelling around prestigious galleries.For others however, this activity merely appended female figures on to an fundamentally masculinist conception of art. Here writers, like Griselda Pollock emphasised the ‘spectacle’ of the piece. It’s scale and presence being not so much an elevation of women’s creativity as an embodiment of institutional power. Here Chicago’s self promotion and individual status – above all those who dedicated the time to help make the project – has been criticised.For others, who might be termed Post-Structuralist Feminists or Post-Feminists, the work represented the problematic nature of 1970s feminist at. The vaginal images could be said to continue a tradition of objectifying women (though it must be noted that explicit images of female genitals had been prohibited in patriarchal discourses). Here Chicago’s use of a ‘core imagery’, prevalent throughout her work was heavily criticised. The layered effects of chicago’s work, peeling away to an essential feminine core, made some uncomfortable. Chicago’s work with Goddess type images might also be evoked as a sign of her perpetually trying to recuperate some lost feminine attribute.Further adding to this, black and/or lesbian feminists disparaged the idea that there was any ‘universal’ experience common to all women, and criticised the white and western implications bias of this work. (though again it could be argued that the dinner party itself could be some what homo-erotic, given that to eat from these plates would essentially be to perform oral sex).“... Contemporary feminists borrow from this earlier interest in women’s sexual experience but position anatomical signs of femininity as definitely cultural.” p.76
“Because women artists were treated, as were all women, collectively as a homogenous group by virtue of shared gender, and separately from artists of a different gender, women were effectively placed in an absolutely different sphere from men. Thus art by women was subsumed into bourgeouis notions of femininity, and furthermore, art historically, regulated to a special category which was presented as distinct from mainstream cultural activity and public professionalism – the preserve of masculinity.” (Ibid, p.44)
The early 1980s saw a spate of Exhibitions in the States showing primitive art – the Metropolitan Museum even opening a separate wing dedicated solely to ‘Primitive Art’. This sudden interest however, didn’t simply correspond to renewed interest in the ‘Authentic’ art of other cultures but was affronted in fact by strong criticism that might be linked to a theoretical trend called post-colonialism. This is part of a critique of the particularly Western manner with which other cultures have been portrayed.
The second half of the 18th Century and 19th Century are characterised by the establishment of museums and galleries dedicated to representing ‘civilisation’. The Great Exhibition 1851, initiated a series of International Fairs or Expositions dedicated to representing the diverse range of products produced in Western nations, and their colonies. Peculiar to these exhibitions was the construction of narratives, in guide books and within the exhibit, and categorization.
Contained within the categorizations are binary oppositions. These are terms that derive their meaning from there relationship to another, exclusive term. In 19th century discourse it is apparent that these terms were not seen a equal, but one was always privileged.
‘Primitive’ Art appears here as an imaginary category. Dreamed up by the West it often seems to represent a stereotype idea of the art of other cultures. It idealises their apparent authenticity, and also freezes them in place by considering their essential nature to be fixed (i.e not in the process of development) or imagines that they have already lost their ‘innocence’ due to contamination by the west.The hierarchies in place in this world view seem profoundly discriminatory.
New Voices, Postmodernism's Focus On The Marginalised
“... History reveals the necessity for ...
underlying narratives in the manufacture
of cultures of affirmation and resistance.
The danger in not recognising the
essential fictiveness of such constructs,
however, is that a certain fundamentalism,
a mega-nationalism, emerges – all the
more dangerous for its vagueness – which
exercise, elides, confiscates, imposes and
distorts.” (Oguibe  2005, p. 228)
New Voices: postmodernism‟s
focus on the marginalised
How „Authentic‟ is „Primitive‟ art?
How „Essential‟ is Femininity?
Have there always been Homosexuals?
Conclusion: Power and Exclusion
How „Authentic‟ is
“Developments in the Disciplines of
History and Anthropology during the
previous fifteen years or so had
eroded the notions of „Authenticity‟
and „the untouched primitive‟,
especially when the two were linked;
and in the aftermath of the 1984‟s
exhibits, the concept of „authentic
primitive art‟ was attacked head-on by
a rack of cultural critics, leaving it
bloody and dead.” (Errington 1998, p.3)
Representing the „Other‟ and
„Authentic‟ Great Exhibition 1851
Otherness – binary oppositions
in the 19th Century world view.
Culture > Nature
Rationality > Irrationality
Western > Non-Western
Man > Woman
“As Europeans increasingly came to
think of themselves during the
nineteenth centuries as essentially and
characteristically secular, rational,
civilized, and technologically advanced,
they almost necessarily generated an
imagined Other that was savage,
ignorant, and uncivilised” (Errington
Self-Portrait as a Heel, Part Two
Jean Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1983) Notary
Jean Michel Basquiat
How “Essential” is Femininity?
“Legislators, priests, philosophers, writers, and scientists have
all striven to show that the subordinate position of woman is
willed in heaven and advantageous on earth.” (De Beauvoir
“All agree in recognising the fact that females exist in the
human species; today as always they make up about one half
of humanity. And yet we are told that femininity is in danger;
we are exhorted to be women, remain women, become
women. It would appear, then, that every female human being
is not necessarily a woman; to be so considered she must
share in that mysterious and threatened reality known as
femininity. It this attribute something secreted by the ovaries?”
How „Essential‟ is femininity?
“the [feminine] stereotype is a
product of a patriarchal culture which
constructs male dominance through
the significance it attained to sexual
difference.” (Parker and Pollock
Have there always been
“Foucault did not suggest that sexual
relationships between people of the same sex
did not exist before the 19th Century. In the
Renaissance period, for example, sexual
practices such as sodomy were condemned
by the church and prohibited by law, whether
between men and men or men and women.
But the crucial difference between this early
form of regulatory sexual practices and that of
the late 19th century lies in the latter‟s claim to
identify what Foucault called a „species‟, an
aberrant type of human being defined by
preverse sexuality.” (Spargo p.18)
“Foucault ... Insisted that the category of the
homosexual grew out of a particular context in the
1870s and that, like sexuality generally, it must be
viewed as a constructed category of knowledge
rather than as a discovered identity.” (Ibid, p.17)
“... The most important feature of writing on women
was that it attributed natural explanations to what
were in fact the result of ideological attitudes” (Parker
and Pollock 1981, p.10)
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 these reasons, very important
aspects of the de-centralising process defined as
postmodernism. Moreover, they might be seen to be only
prominent examples in much broader field of
De Beavoir, S (1949) The Second Sex, at
sex/introduction.htm [Accessed 05/05/2009]
Foucault, M ( 1998) The History of Sexuality: Vol 1. London,
Heller, S (ed.) (1999) Design Literacy. New York, Allworth Press.
Hooks, B (1994) Outlaw Culture. London, Routledge.
Oguibe, O ( 2005) In the ‘Heart of Darkness’, in Kocur, Z and
Simon Ling (eds.) Theory in Contemporary Art since 1985, Oxford,
Owens, C ( 1994) The Discourse of Others: Feminists and
Postmodernism. In Owens, C. Beyond Recognition: Representation,
Power, and Culture, Bryson, S et al. (eds.) London, University of
Parker, R and Griselda Pollock (1981) Old Mistresses: Women, Art
and Ideology. New York, Pantheon Books.
Pearlman, A (2003) Unpackaging the Art of the 1980s. London, The
University of Chicago Press.
Jones, A (ed.)(1996) Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in
Feminist Art History. London, University of California Press.