Studio 2: Bridge 1 Part 2

Part A:

Christina’s World

Andrew Wyeth

my partner Renwei’s 3 “what if” questions:

This is a series questions about the oil painting in MoMA.

1, what if it is a performance art?

2, what if the girl is escaping from some danger like, fire?

3, what if it’s a photograph of a drama?

my answers:

1.   I think it will be like one of the artist Kan Xuan’s artwork called Kanxuan! Ai! (1999) I found this piece in The Guggenheim Museum. It was in the exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the Word. The video is about Kan Xuan herself shouted her name aloud like finding another person and then answered herself with “Ai” while running in the crowd through a pedestrian underpass in Beijing’s subway station. The repeated ” Kan Xuan, Ai” evokes a feeling of lost but with a stubborn attitude in finding the truth, finding the lost self. It is quite the same with Christina in Christina’s World.  Christina  suffered from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which causes progressive muscle deterioration in feet and legs. In this way she could only move by using her upper body part. But she refused to use wheel chairs. In some way, they all have a commitment to life and themselves.

2. If the girl is escaping from fire, it will still be a striking piece. For most of the paintings are focusing on subjects which are beautiful or memorable, like Monet’s landscape drawing or religious paintings in the Renaissance period. However, an escaping scene is the moment that few people choose to depict. It is the same as the original Christina’s World, they shed light on extraordinary moment in daily life which indicate the author‘s careful observation in daily life.

3.If it is a photograph of a drama, it would be like the scene from the performance called He Who Falls showed in different theaters and designed by Yoann Bourgeois, a French choreographer. The stage of this show is different from the normal stage. It is a revolving suspended stage and performers have to take quick actions in order to keep a balance on this “turning table”. During the process of finding balance when facing such variables, the performers fall, tumble, climb. The intention of standing up but hampered by the lose of gravity has the similarity with Christina’s World. She lost her balance due to the disease but still kept dragging herself through the grassland. It reminds me of the painting The Raft of the Medusa, an attitude of being-towards-death.

Part B:

Study of a Seated Nude Woman Wearing a Mask

Thomas Eakins 1863-1866


my partner Renwei’s 3 “what if” questions:

1. What if it is a sculpture?

2. What if it is happened in a bathrooms?

3. What if it is a advertisement hang on a building?
My answers:
1. I found a female sculpture in Met meets the description of the first question. This is Winter by Jean Antoine Houdon in 1787. Instead of the short scarf in the drawing, the long shawl covered half of her body in the sculpture. The way I found out this sculpture is because I think of burqa at first when I saw the masks in the drawing. They symbolize mystery and anonymity, but is a constriction be imposed under the patriarchal society.
2. If it was happened in a bathroom, that would be a more interesting story. Why she wore a mask even in the most private space?  Was she being kidnapped but why there’s no strings on her body? People would be curious about what happened to the woman. This new setting add a sense of drama. And if I need to make up my own meaning of a woman wearing mask in the bathroom, I would say this is a scene about S&M, something related to fetish art.
3. If it is an advertisement hang on the building, I will read this as a poster that advocates women to pay attention to health, not only focus on appearance. Or what to say, focus more on personal identity than the looks. The naked women wearing a mask seems to tell me that “Can people still recognize who you are when your face is covered?”
my 3 “what if” questions:
1. What if it is not a drawing but a collage?
2. What if it is not a female but a male?
3. What if I found this picture on the cover of a perfume package?
My answers:
1. The contrast in the original drawing is between the mask and the naked body. If this art piece is in the form of collage, the contrast would be embodied new meanings from social aspect, political aspect or personal aspect. Like Kevin Lucius’s collage Slow Dancing Utensils, the heads of this couples are replaced by a fork and spoon. For me, it represents a meaning of “eating” each other.2. If it is a naked male with a mask wearing on his face, for me, it will convey a sense of irony. Because the reason that the woman chose to wear mask was in order to remain anonymous. Why would she refuse to show her face? What would happen to her if she show off face? From my view, it must be negative things happened after showing off the face, like being sneered for showing the breast and lower body, being called “bitch”, being called nasty. The mask represent being ashamed. But for men, showing breast and genitals sometimes represent aggression and masculinity. Like the sculpture David or Perseus with the Head of Medusa, they won’t cover their face at all.
3. If it is a image on the package of a perfume, it represent a mysterious sexiness, a low-key sexiness, like marble statue of a member of the imperial family or Aphrodite of Milos. The imperfectness makes perfect.
A new artwork:
    This collage is based on the first “what if” question “What if it is a sculpture?” from my partner, and two questions from myself which are “What if it is not a female but a male?” and  “What if it is not a drawing but a collage?”  I put red lines on these males’ breasts to shows a feeling of censor bars. The five men are from Perseus with the Head of Medusa, David, Christ Crucified, Discus-thrower, The Creation of Adam. The script on the background is an imitation of FBI WARNING. The five men are like examples showing on the display stand. The collage’s topic is based on the question “What if it is not a female but a male?” which is related to my theme of gender. Women feel ashamed when showing out their breast, and lots of the time, they will be covered with censor bar which is something people get accustomed to. But why male’s do not have this “formulation” So I made the collage in this way. And the reason I choose to use collage to represent it is because the contrast in texture and subjects can reinforce the sense of absurdity and irony.                                          If my collage is going to be placed into the general circulation of Visual Culture, I guess that it will start its circulation on the internet first, being spread through social medias. And the audience will be more like a young generation and people who stand for equal rights. The moment it ends up will be the day that women gain more freedom, gain equal rights as men have.
Revised version:
I did some research on the notion of “male gaze”. John Berger’s programme Ways of Seeing gives me a new perspective on gender. He talks about the relationship between viewers and the female nudes in classical oil paintings. He said that the female nudes in paintings are being watched, at the same time being judged or blamed. They are submissive and lost of energy in the painting in order to please male viewers. I feel ashamed and angry when seeing naked women with men who wear decent clothes in the frame. Nude women are like commodity being compared, picked and played. So I revised my piece into a more ironic way as putting male nudes on stands with price tags on it,  in the context of a beauty competition. I like the change of background color from blue to pink. Because pink, as a girlish color, used in this masculine image.
John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 2 (1972)


The complicated gender history of pink

6 Female Artists on What the Male Gaze Means to Them

Leave a reply

Skip to toolbar