Thursday, April 8, 2021

Two posters, two questions, no answers.


Barbara Kruger, silkscreen, 1989.

Dear To Whom it May Concern,

I am not always sure who you are; I am not even sure who I am, so forgive me for sending you things you don't agree with, or things you don't even know exist.  

I remember, more than ten years ago, explaining why a particular woman (Ms. X) was wearing a close-fitting dress to a woman (Ms. BB) of an older generation.  I said that wearing tight clothes like that, revealing clothes like that, body-conscious clothes like that, was a kind of rebellion, an act of resistance.  This made very little sense to Ms. BB, because Ms. X didn't 'have the body for those clothes.'  Ms. X was supposed to use pleats and tailoring to hide her shape.  Ms. BB was raised on pleats and tailoring, as tools to present her body in the "best" way possible.  Of course, the rebellious act of wearing clothes you are not supposed to is not just about refusing to meet people's expectations; there is an unspoken idea that women with the wrong kind of body are not even sexual beings; they are aberrations on every level.  They cannot 'control' themselves (I know!  Isn't that just great?  Wild, out of control, so best stay out of my way!) and they refuse to be 'good' (again, so delightfully delinquent!).

Well, that is your introduction to the following two articles, which I have been considering carefully, and asking myself two questions:  Do they hate my joy?  Do I want them to touch me?

Article One.

Article Two.

Ellen Hochberg, 2012.