Proposal: 5-10 small, textile dolls, each dismembered in some way. They will be less than a foot long in size, and made out of textiles connected to me (old clothes, for example), and will have features that resemble mine (mainly brown hair, blue eyes, fair skin but I’m still thinking about this one- like is it necessary that they look like me at all, or is it enough that they are all made of my clothes?). Their dismemberment will take the form of being split down the middle of their torso, or of having an arm or leg ripped off– being torn or disfigured in some way that implies a violent action, not just a production deficiency (as if they were made wrong).
By making these dolls, that all take the form of little girls or women (and the use of an implied function of toys for girls), I am constructing an image of women’s bodies as infantalized and inferior, disfiguring them to talk about how our patriarchal society and deeply misogynistic culture systemically oppress women.The dismemberment relates to the fact that women and girls are oppressed: our growth as full humans is stymied, we are abused, refused economic advancement, and ultimately killed because of this system that treats us as inferior. And by incorporating pieces of myself (my clothes) I am implicating myself in this construction- I include myself as someone who is oppressed by this system and operates within it.
But I still have questions, like how much of myself should be visible in this? I want it to feel personal because it makes the ideas of systemic oppression easier to see, more concrete– like it’s something that I as a woman experience on a regular basis, rather than just some abstract idea that feminist intellectuals theorize about. Also, if I split open the dolls’ stomach, or rip their arm off, what comes out? Should it just be traditional toy stuffing? Or should it be something else? What is revealed in the violent action of dismembering?