REBECCA McINTOSH, LOVE TV, artist, citizen journalist, private conversations in public spaces, love, community engagement
 
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VALIE EXPORT In action Pants: Genital Panic 1969
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Elenor Heartney in the Clam with Aphrodite Flatiron Plaza NYC
_ Last year I interviewed Eleanor Heartney New York Art Critic and writer during my public performance of LOVE TV at Flat Iron Plaza NYC. Eleanor is a Contributing Editor to Art in America and Artpress and has written extensively on contemporary art issues for such other publications as Artnews, Art and Auction, The New Art Examiner, the Washington Post and The New York Times. She has also written numerous books including Art and Today and co-author of After the Revolution: Women who Transformed     Contemporary Art.

Heartney’s new book is exploring the concept of “Bad Girls” an evolution in feminist art, which is more playful and fun.  The artists she examines are interested in reclaiming sexualized images from contemporary culture including porn as a way of positively exploring identity, sexuality and femininity. As a lead up to International Woman’s day 2013 I thought this interview threw some invigorating ideas into the conversation about feminist art.  
Valie Export’s powerful image (above) sprang to my mind when I started thinking about Bad Girls in Art, it’s powerful, subversive and satirical and as I learnt from Eleanor there is a strong current of woman who have been exploring this terrain who are part of this dialogue as feminist artists.

_ Bellow is the transcript from our interview.

Rebecca
Where do you see art at the moment, moving out of post-modernism where are we at right now?

Eleanor
Right now we are post, post modern, anything goes, that’s actually one of the things I have been writing about there is no one particular direction, as the world changes art changes.

Rebecca
Is that quite a rapid evolution at the moment, like that shift where anything happens, things like hybrids, which is particularly evident in say, fashion?

Eleanor
They’re similar actually, through out pop culture, you see it though the globalization of culture and the market place, it’s all part of the same phenomena.

Rebecca
Can you make a prophecy of what you think will emerge?

Eleanor
Well…..I don’t think I can make a prophecy about what I think will emerge, but I can talk about what I’m writing about right now which is the evolution of feminist art towards a much more kind a playful and fun phenomena.

Rebecca
So the serious days are over its time for the ladies to have their fun and humor.

Eleanor
I am working on a book right now and one of the themes that I am really focusing on is Bad Girls.

Rebecca
I love it, I don’t think you can have enough bad girl myself Eleanor I love a bad girl!

Eleanor
I agree One of the original bad girls I am writing about in the book is an artist named Lynda Bingliss who got into “huge” trouble in 1974 when she posed for an add wearing nothing but a pair of smart looking sunglasses and a huge dildo!

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LYNDA BINGLISS 1974
_ Rebecca
And that was in an add?

Eleanor
It was an add in a magazine and it so outraged some of the editors of the magazine that they quit and went off and started their own publication which was dreary and academic with no pictures in it at all.

Rebecca
I reckon if that happened today people would be still outraged, I feel like people are more conservative now then they were back then in a way.

Eleanor
It’s true, one of the things that is interesting is, is there are a lot of bad girl artists but there is a whole kind of fear of the body and sexuality and that’s what these bad girl feminist artist are about. They are saying, it’s not a bad thing, that images of ourselves, pornography, sex, desire these are good things not something that we have to suppress. But there is a very powerful movement both inside and outside the feminist art world to suppress that.

Rebecca
And also in the world in general.

Eleanor
Yes, Yes absolutely it’s important I think to proclaim that we love our ourselves and we love our sex!

Rebecca
Absolutely I am up for that! But how bad can you get and when does say art become porn? Or is it all about context?

Eleanor
It is in a way and in fact that’s one of the things that I am writing about there’s this saying “If I like it it’s erotic if you like it it’s pornographic.”

Rebecca
I see that’s Funny!

Eleanor
I know, and that’s how it really seems to be. I think for a lot of the bad girl women artists they find that those kind of images that are associated with pornography are a very interesting way for them to talk about their own sexuality, their own desires, and part of the point is to take it away in a sense, from the women haters and turn it into something very positive.

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KATARZYNA KOZYRA “Mans Bathhouse” 1999
_ Rebecca
So who is your favorite artist at the moment who do you think is the baddest and the smartest, you kind of have to be both don’t you?  

Eleanor
I have a number of artists I really love, one of the artist that I think is wonderful right now is a Polish artist named Katarzyna Kozyra and one of the things that she did which kind of fabulous was she did a video where she disguised herself as a young boy complete with a prosthetic penis and went into a men’s bath house in Poland and video taped the men’s reactions too her.


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KATARZYNA KOZYRA “Lady’s Bathhouse” 1997
_ Rebecca
So she had a video camera?

Eleanor
Yes and she had confederates who were also in the bathhouse….

Rebecca
So off siders?

Eleanor
Other men, and she went in there, she looks like a boy, she has a very thin build, she dressed herself with this thing on that was pretty convincing, she had a towel at the top and she was watching how everyone was watching her.

Rebecca
What was the reaction, were they suspicious of her were they enamored by her?

Eleanor
This was what was interesting…she did two different videos one was in a women’s bathhouse as a woman and she said the woman they kind of didn’t really pay that much attention to her but in the men’s bathhouse, here she was this cute young guy, she got a lot of attention.

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Cindy Sherman Untitled #25 1992
_ Rebecca
What about here in NYC? Who’s hot in the states right now?

Eleanor
We just had a big show of Cindy Sherman’s work and she is a pretty bad girl.

Rebecca
She is the seminal master in a way!

Eleanor
She did a very interesting series of work; she’s the artist that dresses herself up as different characters and a number of series where she is pretty bad.  You know there is some pornographic images, she does herself up as fairytale goblins, witches there are a lot of scary images, of there are images that are just very funny and she has some of the scariest clowns I have actually ever seen, but yeah she does some pretty sexual stuff.

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Cindy Sherman Untitled #(419) 2004
_ Rebecca
What do you think about public art where do bad girls sit in public spaces because that’s challenging as I guess there has to be a certain level of awareness of who the audience are, how do you think bad girls play in public?  
Eleanor
That’s a tricky one actually. On the one hand you remember that you have all these statues of naked men and woman around in public spaces that’s a very common thing however when contemporary artist do this it becomes a problem I remember back in the Bush era there was a whole contreversary because there was a bare breasted figure that represented justice and they had to clothe her, cover her with a curtain because that would be corrupting to the youth.

Yeah so the public attitudes are often absurd!

10/1/2014

As a lead up to International Woman’s day 2013 I thought this interview threw some invigorating ideas into the conversation about feminist art.

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Rebecca McIntosh, LOVE TV, artist, public art, citizen journalist, interviews, love, community engagement, public installation, LOVETV, LOVETVinterviews, Aphrodite, art, performance, live event, urban screens, multidisciplinary