Artist's Statement for my new series:
Women receive the message from a very young age that their bodies are not their own. They exist for the pleasure of others; their role is to be pretty and pleasing, easy on the eyes. And the standards for what ideal beauty is become narrower and more unrealistic all the time. In adulthood, women again receive the message that their bodies are not their own. Choices regarding their bodies, such as access to birth control, their right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, are regulated by male law-makers, and are still very controversial issues. Being female is seen as a liability by insurance companies, further reinforcing the second class status of women. Their bodies may be considered the property of their husbands, boyfriends, partners. They may be told how to dress, how to wear their hair, when they "need" to lose weight. And their choices may be dictated by officials in the church, who affirm the notion that the function of women is to serve men and to pay for the sins of their mothers. Any one remember that apple?
Women who take pleasure in their bodies and in their sexuality are seen as "sluts." If we don't find sex to be enjoyable, we are "frigid." Or if our orientation is toward other women, it is because we haven't had a "real man" before.
When a girl or a woman is sexually assaulted, she may lose all connection with her body, which is the site of her wounds, though they are most likely the type that leave scars on her psyche rather than on her body. The body is still the site of the trauma, and the body holds those memories in its cells. Instead of seeing her body as the temple that is is and something sacred and valuable, she sees it as the source of her pain. She may lose touch with her sexuality, which she has come to see as something dangerous. Her sexuality may have been blamed by her or by others for whatever evil was done to her. "If you weren't so attractive, so hot, so inviting, this wouldn't have happened. It's not my fault. I couldn't help myself. You came onto me..." And she is left thinking, "I came onto you? Really? I was only eight years old..."
Using a Polaroid 110A camera and expired Polaroid 669 film, this series explores the myth of Jezebel, the woman who led men to worship false gods by virtue of her unrestrained sensuality, It explores connotations of the "loose woman." The expired film and vintage camera give the series the effect of an underwater dream sequence. "Resurrecting Jezebel" is a rejection of the notion that women exist only to be admired for their physical beauty. It is a rejection of the male gaze which has dominated the world of art since time immemorial. It is a rejection of the notion that feminine sexuality is dangerous and needs to be subjugated. And it reflects the process of healing, of reclaiming what has been stolen, of learning to be present in the body, in the moment, learning to appreciate the gifts that healthy sexuality can bring.
Until next time...