Monday, April 22, 2013

Domestic Violence is Still Fashionable

Blood Sign #2 by Ana Mandieta 

Ana Mandieta was a Cuban artist known for her amazing performance art and “sculptural earth body works of the 70’s.” Her works are extremely feminist and personal, where the themes of her work would be about “violence against the female body, sacrifice, and crime.”[1]  She once said: "The turning point in art was in 1972, when I realized that my paintings were not real enough for what I want the image to convey and by real I mean I wanted my images to have power, to be magic." Unfortunately, Mandieta died young because she fell from a 34th floor of an apt building in Greenwich Village 8 months after marrying the minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. He fought to remove all the charges related to her death.
In 1982, Mandieta created Body Tracks, which is a series of long markings created with her own hands, forearms, and blood. There is so much going on, in the long strokes of blood being dragged down all the way to the floor. When she did Blood Sign #2, she would cut herself, and slap her human paint brushes against the wall. That’s intense! She would slowly drop to the floor, as if she was just wounded trying to support her body with the little strength that she has, slowly getting weaker, and finally drops to the floor; this creates a sense of despair, powerless, oppressed, etc. Through her performance art, Mandieta wants to bring attention to the violence women are subjected to within the patriarchal society.

The technique of applying the paint to the paper is similar to the French artist, Yves Klein, who used the women covered in his signature IKB monochrome-blue color, and created imprints of their bodies by pressing themselves against the canvas. The theme that Mandieta was trying to convey through her art also parallels with the feminist performance artists such as Karen Finley, who used the body as the medium for expression of the woman’s journey.[2]  Ultimately, I am reminded by shock advertisements that are shown throughout the world, where they rely on the photographs ability to arouse emotion and shock potential audience. Unfortunately, instead of spreading awareness of violence against women, they are sensitizing us from the ordeal. They are making it out to be a usual thing, while still trying to promote their products. Brands such as Dolce Gabbana, Calvin Klein, and many others exhibit themes of rape, violence against women, and provocative and controversial images to sell jeans, clothes, alcohol, and other material goods etc. Society has come to the point where violence against women is made fashionable; we can beat women or be beat, while still looking cool.
“Gorgeous women have been visually beaten and burned, bashed and slashed in service to fashion, art, and commerce—each of which seem to take cultural precedence over women’s health, well-being, and personal and political agency.” - Karrin Anderson (Bag News)
Here are some advertisements that I am referring to.

There is some hope in society though! Some organizations create ad campaigns which are aimed to bring awareness to domestic violence. The national Indian ad campaign against domestic violence, Bell Bajao (Ring the Bell), has been selected as one of the six films in the 2010 Cannes Film Festival Speak Out Against Domestic Violence Short Film Contest.[3] Others such as Amnesty International create advertisements to reflect on society’s views toward the subject.


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