I’m really interested in ultra-femme power imagery, and an esthetic quality so beautiful it shatters all traditional understandings of what ’empowered women’, femininity, female sexuality and/or ‘beauty standards’ can look like. I also quite literally believe that ‘selfies’ are a revolutionary movement, and that aided by the internet, they can change the worlds perception of women, and women’s perception of themselves, in a really profound way.
Madeleine Black grew up in the prairies (Regina),
chasing bad boys and sunsets.
Now based in Montreal,
she’s chasing her highly unrealistic and foolishly girly dreams of being
an interdisciplinary artist, with a truly fulfilling and richly creative life.
(making art about the (beauty in) fooling around and girlyness).
She can most often be found trying to remember where she scattered
all of the pieces of herself, and/or crying about gender barriers and/or
re-applying her lipstick without a mirror on the bus.
Colors break her heart everyday.
Both were done with india ink pens with the concept of how I perceive my – pink, psoriasis covered, floral, leopard print, diamond encrusted skin – with more in the works.
I’m interested in what shapes, patterns and imagery the unpredictable designs in my skin can resemble and how to represent them (and it as a whole) in a visually enticing way.
Tonight and tomorrow night I’m doing a performance with Fada Dance, for our year end show called ‘What’s in the Closet, What’s Under the Bed’, as a Barbie doll. In the piece each of us are a different broken toy, the other girls are: a robot, a soldier, a strawberry shortcake doll, a ballerina, a jester and a raggedy anne doll. As a part of our preparations we did a free writing as our toy, here’s a snip-bit from mine:
“I was created to be a role model, the ideal, beautiful, successful, a blank slate for imagination. As children, girls love me, but as they grow older, they begin to compare themselves to my plastic flesh. I was cast in a mold, I cannot control the way that I look, but I’m not trying to make anyone feel self conscious. Soon, I was labeled as a ‘bad influence’ on self perception and body image, and the girls who were once my best friends prefer me forgotten.”
I’m really interested in what it would feel like to literally be a Barbie. A large theme in our piece is that these toys have been left behind, no longer a part of children’s lives (like Toy Story). There’s a real nostalgic heartbreak in that reality manifested in any aspect of our lives, like when people or homes or toys that were once dear and close to us are no longer. But if we leave those people, homes or toys on a bitter, resentful note, than the pain becomes much deeper, and I feel like Barbie really gets hit hard with bitterness and resentment more than maybe any other childhood friend.
Barbie is caught between this idea of condratictory messages about beauty, and that is something that I can relate to. It’s something I feel is paralelled in the messages we send girls and women about their (our) own bodies, Barbie aside. We are told and taught and taunted, to be beautiful, cute and sexy, but still approachable, still relatable, still exsisting under this metaphoracle bar of attractiveness. The message is that we’ll never be enough, but we can still be too much.
In my opinion, Barbie gets too much blame, and what I believe is actually responsible, is the ever encouraged idea that women are meant to be like fantasy; the idea that the ideal woman looks like a mini nymph from your favorite fairy tale and that we need to look a certain way in order to receive the love that we deserve.
If we taught our children that women (and men) don’t have to have shiny hair and perfect skin, that we’re humans with mortal bodies that hold tension and experiences and love and grief, that we have fantasies for a reason, as a wonderful way to escape reality; then I don’t think we’d ever have to resent Barbie and her proportionately 18 inch waist, just like we don’t resent Mr. Potato Head because he can wear his feet on his head.
Here are some long exposure photographs I took with my digital camera a few weeks ago. I’ve found that the light from street lamps is perfect for creating this sort of effect. The whole process of it really exhilarating, there’s a lot of trial and error to get interesting alignments and each photo takes about 30 seconds to process. I probably spent close to an hour sitting on the ground. These are the coolest of the bunch:
“The number of times, that Madeleine has expressed maturity and knowing what she wants, has been, pretty much all the time since I met her.”