Themes and Issues in the work of Female Artists


The Common Arc: Subjects and Issues in the work of Female Artists with Special Reference to Berni Searle along with Amrita Shergill, Soraya Nulliah and N.Pushpamala.

Abstraction– In this paper I try to research the assorted subjects and issues that female creative persons by and large deal with. Particularly, the 1s who have experienced the odds and terminals of colonialism and the leftovers of it. My hypothesis is that, female creative persons all over work with the same issues in the background. A survey of these issues leads us to better apprehension of the plants of these female creative persons.

Marx was of the position that our stuff conditions determine our being. In that sense whatever, a human being green goodss is a consequence of the stuff conditions he is portion of… . . To set it more loosely, all our actions, interactions, productions etc are portion of a broader socio-politico-economic context. Nothing that we think, perceive, react to is barren of this broader model. Art, in the similar manner, if we follow this line of statement is a merchandise of a larger meeting of different societal, historical, political and economic backgrounds. Art is non produced in vaccumm ; it is portion of a larger political relations. It is dynamic in the sense that its significance is non merely determined by what the creative person intends to state through his/her work but the significance travels, adding different beds to it ; from the topographic point and fortunes in which it was originally produced to intending ascription by the audience of the graphics be they be pictures, exposure, public presentation art etc.

One of the most celebrated creative person – Leonardo Da Vinci…has remarked that art is non for adorning life infinites but besides to revenge war against enemies. Therefore, art is really much political every bit much as it is about aesthetics. This is particularly true when we evaluate and analyze the plants of female creative persons. As it is good established fact among artist all over the universe, female creative persons have ever faced favoritism in footings of deficiency of support, overburdened with dual load of being in the populace every bit good as the private domain, deficiency of infinite devoted to them to exhibit their plants and larger patriarchal political orientations at work.

Historically, adult females creative persons have ne’er got a respectable place. On the one manus they have been seen as merely the object to be depicted by male creative persons and consumed by male consumers. On the other manus, the thought of bureau exercised by adult females to stand for themselves was non welcomed easy. For female creative persons, therefore, art became a signifier of protest, an ignition of a revolution for themselves to interrupt from the barriers that constrained them. They had to contend historical conditions of their favoritism and besides the present state of affairs they found themselves in. It was about their battle to concept and reconstruct, analyze and set up their individualities as person with bureau to picture and be depicted. This is the broader subject I am looking into this paper through the plants of Berni Searle, a South-African female creative person. She works in the medium of picture taking, movies and pictures. Through her plants, she non merely deals with the colored female representation in the mainstream art as non merely an object but besides she raises issues of colonialism, racism, white ethnographic prejudice etc.

However, before deeply prosecuting with the work of this creative person, I would wish to warrant my stance on why I chose to look into her work in my paper. First, I found her work really challenging and interesting in footings of the medium of public presentation art. She involves herself in her work which clearly does non adhere to conventional aesthetics. Second, her individuality as a black female creative person, sing the leftovers of colonialism and enduring the peculiarity of being ‘colored’ or ‘black’ has been the premier stimulation to her plants. Her creative activity non merely pertains to being ‘colored’ or ‘black’ , situated non merely in Africa but pertains to humanity at big who have been victims of colonialism and the topic of orientalist’s prejudice and gender hierarchy. In this context, one can associate her work to South Asia, whose dwellers and female creative persons have besides suffered the same favoritism and development, more so the issue of individuality in the context of colonialism.

Third, Searle has been working on the long drawn out battle of visibleness and invisibleness doing it the focal point point of her work. Her pursuit for meaningful representation and contemplation on her ain thought of ego and individuality and besides disputing the dominant colonial – patriarchal prejudice towards adult females and particularly towards black adult females. She tries to do the point clear that the female creative person is both the Godhead every bit good as the complete authorization of her ain work. While making so, it can be noted that, she non merely seeks acknowledgment of her ain subjective fortunes but the issue of visibleness and invisibleness is raised for colonial topics all over. Therefore, her work has a cosmopolitan entreaty and is non constrained in spacial location.

Fourthly, Searle depicts how the bare black organic structure has been a sight that is capable to oriental prejudice, viewed in a negative, derogative visible radiation. By problematizing the ‘gaze’ of the spectator and the object in her work, she puts forwards the message of assignment of intending to it in her ain footings. South Asia as a part, peculiarly states such as India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan has been confronted with similar pattern of being called ‘colored’ such as ‘Browns’ . Womans have been dominated by what Kimberle Crenshaw calls ‘Double Patriarchy’….as in the instance of black adult females.

Fifthly, descriptive anthropology as a methodological analysis in anthropology and societal anthropology has been more than specimen to be studied and tested by the white ethnographers. Searle challenges this thought through casting visible radiation on the function of descriptive anthropology and the black female organic structure which is besides relevant if we take the South Asiatic instance. Thus, while working with the genre of picture taking, movie and picture as a modern-day South African female creative person, she addresses different types of issues intertwined into each other which consequences into the larger issue of unstable individualities non merely in the instance of Africa but besides is pertinent to other parts of the colonised universe, including South Asia.

In my paper, I will look into the different plants of Berni Searle and subsequently towards the decision ; I would besides wish to convey some modern-day creative persons from South Asia for e.g. – Amrita Shergill, N.Pushpamala and Soraya Nulliah. I use these illustrations from South Asia because adult females artist all over about trades with the issues and therefore spacial boundaries does non count every bit far as female creative persons plants are concerned.

As mentioned earlier, Berni Searle works through the medium of picture taking, picture and movie, some of her outstanding plants are The ‘ Color Me’ series, ‘Snow White’ , ’Not Quite White ; returning the Gaze project’ etc. Her signifier of art is regarded as conceptual art as it radically coveys her thoughts and constructs instead than art being merely a finished merchandise for ingestion. In the kingdom of conceptual art, the thought, context, fortunes which indicates towards the production of the art work themselves is more of import than the art-work itself…

As mentioned earlier, a piece of art is non produced in vacumm, isolated from other influences but instead a merchandise of broader model of criss-crossing historical, societal, political, economical flights. Therefore, female creative persons work whenever or wherever they have been produced is the consequence of the same procedure.

Berni Searle holding born in the epoch of apartheid, her assorted racial lineage, incarnating both African and European decent was person regarded in the ‘colored zone’ . The repeating subjects in all her plants is the issue of inactive individuality of black adult females which she wants to negociate, deconstruct and reconstruct. Through the usage of her ain organic structure, she wants to faze her ain thought of ego and the ‘othered’ organic structure of the colonial head. For her, individualities can ne’er be fixed, particularly when organic structure is that of a black female. Brenda Schahmann ( 2004-70-71 ) noticing on Searle’s work stated that – “…her images of her ain organic structure speak of the complexness of individualities in a South African context….An enterprise to faze the label colored, and uncover its slippages and anamolies, underpins many of Searle’s images of self” . Searle herself remarks on her work and the usage of her ain organic structure in her work by saying that – “ … puting myself or my organic structure in the work exposes other facets of my individuality, for illustration, gender [ therefore ] …exposing myself hence involves a procedure of claiming and points to the thought [ that ] there are a scope of axes that inform individuality which are inter-connected, finding relationships of dependence and domination in any given context.”..

In the ‘Color me’ series which includes photographic installings: ‘Trace ( 1999 ) ’ , ‘Looking Back ( 1999 ) ’ , ‘Girl ( 1999 ) ’ along with her picture installing ‘Snow White’…Beer ( 2012:41 ) In this series, Berni Searle uses her ain bare organic structure as a cardinal piece, photographed and put in different frames, each frame as an extension which seems to be overlapping the old frame. It gives out the message that our really thought of individuality demands to be examined in a new visible radiation which should be free from colonial reading of the ‘colored’ organic structure. It is non merely about the coloured organic structure but besides depicts the quandary of the representation of this organic structure, particularly the female organic structure which has an bureau of its ain, as depicted by Searle but at the same clip is besides vulnerable to lose – response and miss-interpretation by the audience who view these plants.

In her work ‘Not Quite White: Returning the regard project’ , Searle’s naked organic structure is laid horizontally, smeared with spices against a measurement tape which illustrates how the black organic structure has been merely used as a specimen for experiments and ethnographic patterns by the white colonial Masterss. The black organic structure was nil more than an object for measuring ; deaf-and-dumb person and docile, subjected to the usage and maltreatment of the white colonial Masterss. This issues which Searle raises is relevant non merely to her ain South-African context but besides full colonised universe including South-Asian topics. In the ‘Girl ( 1999 ) ’ and the picture installing ‘Snow White’ , she juxtaposes the thought of what a colored female organic structure looks like against the thought of pure white female organic structure. As in the instance of the ‘Girl’ , it is clearly seeable that it is non a immature female organic structure but a black grownup adult females organic structure, therefore problematizing the European construct of the female organic structure. In ‘Snow White’ excessively, the same message comes across, along with signals of opposition and protest against the thought of organic structure and individuality. Her work inquiries the expansive narrations of modernism and evolutionary paradigm.

In most of her plants, there is a distinguishable usage of mundane stuffs such as spices, oils and white flour. Through the usage of such stuffs, she refers to two of import subjects – one subject is of historical significance, where trade in spices was one of the main trade in colonial times giving rise to hybridity of ‘colored’ individualities and besides following roots to her ain hereditary beginnings ; two, how cookery and other domestic plants was the most common ground for maintaining slaves ( Baderoon 2009:101 ) and therefore enforce slave individuality on them. Therefore, the spice covered organic structure dramas with the historical commoditization of the ‘othered’ organic structure through the act of bondage ( Beer 2012:44 ) . The organic structure so becomes the site of preparation of narrations and shared discourses. Searle challenges the imperial regard and what Laura Mulvey footings, ” to-be-looked-at-ness” ( Lewis 2001:109 ) .

One of the of import issues that female creative persons all over have dealt with is the thought of the regard. The female organic structure has been ever seen as an object, exposed to the male regard. Historically, it holds more true when it is about the colonised organic structure, but Searle in her work “Looking Back” by returning her regard back to the spectator showcase the bureau of the object and that it is non docile and inactive. Further, her act of working the dough into the staff of life, she tries to picture the catholicity of domestic work and the widespread impression of the feminine domain is in the domestic. Therefore, we can see that Berni Searle’s work, even though is a consequence of her ain life flights has a cosmopolitan entreaty.

In my following subdivision, I would wish to briefly touch upon few female creative persons from South Asia to foreground the similarity of issues that female creative persons are confronted with all over irrespective of their spacial location. One such creative persons from South Asia ; India, to be precise was Amrita Shergill. Even though non explicitly termed as a feminist creative person but her plants really much reflect feminist issues of female subjugation, domination, being cocooned in domestic sphere etc. Moreso, she deals with the ‘gaze’ of her female topics and the glooming and dark experiences that they go through. The female topics in her work have a curious distinctive feature of shying off from the spectator and look to be docile and demure. Her plants can besides be said to picture the dominant male and largely European white premise of oriental adult females being a docile topic of domination.

In contrast to Amrita Shergill, Soraya Nulliah is a modern-day creative person who works through the medium of pictures. She is an Indian beginning creative person, born in South Africa during the apartheid epoch. Two of her most popular plants are ‘She Has a narrative to Tell’ ( 2010-2011 ) and ‘Journey of Self’ ( 2009-2010 ) . Both her plants though trades with women’s issues associating to violence against them, the mutedness of the female topic. However, in her work, ‘She has a narrative to tell’ , she depicts how force against adult females silences her but at the same clip that does to the full eliminate her bureau. She is capable of exerting her bureau through her direct regard and disputing the society which oppresses her. This work of her’s besides provokes the audience to raise inquiries as to why she is non able to narrate her narrative. And what are the restraints behind that? However in a ulterior work, titled ‘Journey of self’ ( 2009-2010 ) , Nulliah illustrates the female topics ain bureau while looking into the other way. At times, it can be besides misinterpreted as switching her regard as a symbol of shying off from the spectator.

Finally, I would briefly touch upon another popular South Asiatic creative person – N.Pushpamala, a Bangalore based creative person who started off as a sculpturer but shifted the focal point of her work to public presentation picture taking. As a South Asian and an Indian female creative persons, through her assorted plants such as ‘The Phantom Lady or Kismet’ , ‘The Native Women’ , ‘Paris Autumn’ etc she deals with assorted issues of representation, visibleness, the organic structure, regard of the female capable etc. She herself like Berni Searle, even though non every bit much as provocative, is the premier figure in her plants. Her plants at the first glimpse gives an feeling of a inactive theoretical account in the Centre of the exposure. However, it is much moral force in the sense that it is invariably in a duologue with the spectator of the work in footings of reading of the significances. Assorted portraitures of adult females such as that of a goddess to a ‘phantom’ lady depict the porous boundaries of apprehension of the female organic structure.

Therefore, we can see that female creative persons irrespective of their spacial location, manners and country of work are confronted and cover with the same sort of issues to decode the assorted beds of significance of the female organic structure in a work of art. It holds particularly true, when they have experienced the leftovers of colonial domination. Therefore, even though specificities have to be looked into assorted artists’ work but one besides needs to be cognizant of the common experiences which forms the background of their plants in order to acquire a deeper apprehension of their plants.