"We as women have been reasonable far too long" and "confronting dark with dark might be the more creative path" and further still "we need to recognise the failure of the world."*

These words take me back to an artwork that presented itself as a problem - trying to make a stand - being unreasonable. Made for the exhibition "Other than Itself" in 1989, the piece expressed ongoing conflicts. A cynical presentation was made and a view of art, social change and feminism was taken to extremes - making a scene, having an argument with itself, stridently voiced, and was, predictably and very sadly, misunderstood.

What was missed or lost was a parodic and angry take on the aggression of the media and the glamour industry so allied to art practices, in its stealthy use and abuse of sexual difference to capture and enslave and to pin down.

"Men and women can never quite inhabit their images and only momentarily at that, shifting and hovering. Drifting around, unwilling to take sides. Our imagination glides off into those amorous spaces and the positions are left to drift.

We shift our identifications across the boundaries of sexual difference, although along its lines, and between them. Identification is multiple, and if it is with anything at all, it is with a wish."
(from exhibition notes by the artist)

It points to "the limits of enlightenment thinking which believes, that we can with sufficient persistence simply drive the cobwebs of unreason away", and "the requisite sexual identity never exhausts our possibilities, the psychic repertoire of any one life." More importantly "there is something about sexual difference that generates violence in and of itself."*
(*These lines are from : Jacqueline Rose - Women in Dark Times - Bloomsbury 2014)

 

 

Both Sides Now Camerwork Installation

 

Both Sides Now 1989. Installation
Installation view Camerwork, London 1990.Six framed photographic prints. Two 60"x52" and four 48"x36"

 

"The incomparable primal power of the mother in relation to the infant, and the set of necessarily broken deals between the mother and her hopefully ordinary neurotic child form the prototype and institutionalisation of the lack of sexual rapport as the basis of language, and as the words with which the mother tortures her infant. It may also explain the popularity of misogyny and male violence against women as a kind of revenge and recognition of an archaic and mothering power over the subject, and the pain inscribed in the relationship."
(Philip Hill 1990)

 

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Both Sides Now 1989