Network review day.

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I feel very behind in my practice at the moment and after hearing that no trains were running from Liverpool to Manchester due to the landslide at Liverpool Lime Street station, I was tempted to allow myself this excuse to miss the review day. Instead, I composed a 10 slide presentation of ideas and happenings that I would like to take further into practice 2.

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I want to experiment with children’s toys as a way of sketching by probing what makes an object gendered by questioning shapes, colours, textures and even environment and context. If I can change the surrounding  area of a toy, does that change they way we connect it to a specific gender? Also, what makes an object gender neutral?

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After the Memory and Trauma lecture during Contested Territories held by Fiona Barber, I wondered whether it would be effective to question why I am interested in stereotypes. What stands out from my childhood is that the only doll I can really remember being interested in was my Rainbow Brite doll and how I would tell people I was her. Looking at this doll, it is obvious to me that she is more of a character than the usual exaggerated perfection of femininity. My mum’s greatest achievement was how beautiful and slim she was and she would talk about it to me a lot. I felt I could never compare and this contributed to an unhealthy relationship with my body for years. I am more the Rainbow Brite character and my mum was the Barbie. Could I make something that illustrates the pressures girls feel to be beautiful? Could I then flip this to show that this really doesn’t matter?

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The Glam Guide is a book aimed at teenage girls that a friend and I came across while living in Cardiff. It is solely based around how you can look your best, your social media and blogging presence, your diet, finding the perfect angle to take your photograph, etc, etc. We planned to show our distaste for this guide aiming at girls of a vulnerable age and expose it for the nonsense it is by re-writing and illustrating an opposing version.

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This is the area I feel most strongly towards and will be the one I pursue first. As discussed in a previous post, I will dissect stereotypical spreads within the magazines and question everything to gain a deeper understanding the thinking behind the artist and publishing house as well as where they situate within society and who they are truly marketed at. I will question the use of language, colour, shapes and imagery, and subjects within the magazines and play with splicing, scale and context. I wonder whether adults look through the magazines and critique them or do they just buy them without a second thought. I would like to draw attention to what is already there.

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I am also drawn towards the language, colours, and imagery used for children’s clothing. A lot rings true with comments made in Marianne Grabruker’s 1988 book ‘There’s a Good Girl: Gender Stereotyping in the First Three Years- A Diary.’ Grabruker documents her experiences of her close circle speaking to boys and girls differently, of using different language, of using language to excuse certain behaviour. I have also noticed this happen today in conversations. After reading Veronika Koller’s article ‘Not just a colour’: pink as a gender and sexuality marker in visual communication I would like to focus on the survey of feelings and expectations associated with different hues of pink and how they become garish and immature when it comes to adults. It would be interesting to experiment with what is commonplace in children’s fashion and apply it to adults simply as t-shirt slogans.

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As discussed in a previous post; the email conversation with a man with opposing views to my own on stereotypes and expectations within society.

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It was recommended I take a look at this book as a way of beginning to think of how I want to disrupt people’s complacency. How do I want to do this and where is it best to situate my work to create the desired effect? Do I want to play with scale in a way to create a direct and forceful impact or do I want to quietly draw people in and secure their attention before they realise what is happening and what is being said?

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This could possibly be the bad idea that I need to let go of, however, I have been questioning if this could work in another context rather than anonymously disseminating the recordings. Could this work if they were in abundance suspended in a small space? Where people have to stand within the area and can not be relieved of paying them any attention and to be confronted with the volume? The problem with this idea is the area it would be displayed. If it was in a gallery then it limits the audience to people who are already accustomed to art and the questions art can propose. Is this my target audience? Is this the area that will trigger the change I intend? Or would perhaps a bus shelter or another public place be more effective?

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Here I informed my peers of the Creative Provocation I will be holding in the Righton Building on Wednesday 12th April where I will discuss my research so far, ideas and the questions I have regarding the most effective way I can help implement a change. I am offering a conversation and hope to generate counter ideas, opinions, and experiences to either compliment or challenge my journey so far.

 

For my feedback I received similar dissatisfaction with the way things are, although, especially when it comes to females and how flowery and sweet language, clothing and expectations of how girls and women should behave. The need to find out what sex a baby is before it is born. It was also highlighted and how the child is embellished in pink and blue, therefore how can this colour preference be natural?  There is less of a concern for boys and the acceptance of how, just like the t-shirt says, ‘Boys will be Boys’. But this leaves me dissatisfied. I feel it is still unfair and negligent of boys emotional needs and interests. Current campaigns were discussed and how they are striking and successful, for example, This Girl Can. There is also a newly started This Boy Can campaign which I believe is equally important. It was suggested that the This Girl Can campaign is successful as it is sending out a positive message rather than highlighting victimisation. I agree that this works and would be worth experimenting with. I do wonder whether this would play to my strengths as an artist, I am someone who is motivated by injustice so I may struggle to flip the message to a positive one. My personality is more direct, I am triggered to highlight issues that have happened in society. It was also suggested that I could create my own gender neutral magazine. It is not something that I am considering at the moment but this could be possible when I have tested my dissection as I mentioned earlier.

 

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