Ghada Amer, Feminist Provocateur

I want to be known as a British male artist or an American white male artist, because they get a lot of attention,” the Egyptian-born artist Ghada Amer says in Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath’s recent book Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring: Conversations with Arab Artists. “They don’t have shows like ‘Women Artists in the 21st Century’.”

Ghana Amer is a contemporary artist living and working in New York and emigrated from Egypt to France at age 11 and was educated in Paris and Nice. The works of Ghana Amer really inspires me, and especially the use of an old technique : the embroidery. She frequently addresses issues of femininity, sexuality, postcolonial identities, and Islamic culture, and these subjects represent really well Konstanze personality. Indeed, her work is feminist, subverting the traditionally masculine genre of painting, and its rejection of the norms of female sexuality. Her most notable works involve highly layered embroidered paintings of women’s bodies referencing pornographic imagery. This « multimedia artist » works with painting, drawing, sculptures, performance, and installations.

Her sculptures : 


Her embroideries :

Here highly criticized works referring to pornography :



The submission of women to the tyranny of domestic life, the celebration of female sexuality and pleasure, the incomprehensibility of love, the foolishness of war and violence, and an overall quest for formal beauty, constitute the territory that she explores and expresses in her art. In addition to the erotic paintings for which she is most famous, numerous works devoted to world politics are exhibited, including some of her more recent antiwar pieces.


Her strategy is really clear to me in a way that she wants to convey her message in a medium that makes it sensitive and delicate, even if at first, it can appear vulgar, inapropriate or misplaced. Normally, pornographic images are frowned or proscibed. Her work inspired me a lot because she highlights her message even more by hidding it, and I am sure that it retains more the attention of the public that get interested and tries to understand the objective. Thats why I decided to work on embroideries on a coat of Konstanze, but doing a totally different strategy, and writting clear messages, directelly understandable by everyone.

Here is a piece that particularly inspired me, it is called Barbies loves Ken, Ken loves Barbie, 1995/2002 :

Two body suits hang from garment hangers. Hand-embroidered red stitches weave across their cotton surfaces, spelling out “Barbie loves Ken” and “Ken loves Barbie.” Styled in “his and her” fashions, these two jumpsuits address certain childhood toys, such as Barbie and Ken dolls, that reinforce traditional gender roles. Through the title as well as the sewn text, Ghada Amer brings to mind the stereotypically gendered games that children often play. The empty suits prompt viewers to consider the wearers of such outfits and, perhaps, question the longstanding history of such stereotypes.

Leave a reply

Skip to toolbar