According modernism’. Both Feminism and post modernism have

According to Silvia Bovenschen’s 1976 book Is
there a Feminine Aesthetic?, Art has been primarily discovered by men.

Bovenschen (1976), declared that men have neatly separated and dominated the
public sector, and that they have defined the normative standards for
evolution. Feminism
has made a contribution to the avant-garde and / or modernist arts of the
1970’s (Lippard, 1995). In her book (1995) ‘The Pink Glass’, Lippard quotes, ‘Feminism’s greatest contribution to the future of
art has probably been precisely its lack of contribution to modernism’. Both
Feminism and post modernism have emerged as two of the most important political-cultural
currents of the last decade: they have tried to rethink the relation between philosophy
and social criticism as to develop paradigms of criticism without philosophy
(Nicholson, 1990).

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In 1975, at the height of second wave
feminism (Laughey, 2007) and as a manifestation of the link between women and the kitchen,
Birgit Jürgenssen represents
her female body that has merged with a kitchen stove to form a new organism
(Mörtenböck, Mooshammer 2014:37).

2, ‘Housewives’ Kitchen Apron’, Birgit Jürgenssen 1974-7.

Jürgenssen’s concept of the female body
and kitchen furniture, facilitates double reproduction of mother and housewife.

She dared to expose form to the visible reproductive female body, in which to
be committed to birth rates and hygiene of marriage and family. She uses her
skin, as a starting point for her reflections, therefore is directed by dominant
gaze. This impression of a
domineering ‘male gaze’ with the female nude as the privileged object of a particular
form of capitalist, has enjoyed widespread currency and a revulsion against
opening up questions around the nude has succeeded.


In Laura Mulvey’s (1989) book ‘Visual and Other
Pleasures’, she claims that male characters are “bearers of the
look” (Mulvey, 1989:809), which is aimed (far more often than not) at
physically desirable, sexually submissive females. This suggests that through the
male gaze, the female body becomes a territory and a valuable resource to be
acquired. Thus, the socially defined and culturally mediated forms to which the
female body is expected to conform, serve the political and economic struggle
over the determination and possession of available resources (Conboy, ? Medina and
Stanbury, 1977). Subsequently, Mulvey developed a female ‘Aesthetic of
Curiosity’, which she linked the female body as a container, ‘Pandora’. The box
is assigned to enclose maliciousness and therefore, held under lock and key
(Lajer-Burcharth, Söntgen 2016).


such, Jürgenssen’s Housewife
Kitchen Apron presents woman as object, woman as appliance, woman as receptacle,
thus showing feminist art’s role in reflecting, making fun of and highlighting
the ridiculousness of the role of women in contemporary culture. The term ‘Scopophilia’ (Mulvey, 1975), which implies
‘pleasure is looking’, also associates with the ‘male gaze’. Which is
demonstrated by Sigmund Freudian theory, by suggesting that ‘pleasure in
looking’ is a human instinct that develops in the early years of a person’s
existence when they begin to experience control over their sight (Freudian, 1910).

Scopophilia it is to be directed either by voyeurism, that is linked to sexual
attraction, or scopophilic which is linked to narcissistic identification
(Nelmes,2003). Jürgenssen’s ‘Housewife
Kitchen Apron’, expresses the desire through ‘Scopophilia’. Perhaps her intention was to create a mystery
of sexual domination, which produces some sort of secrecy from having someone
watch her undertaking domestic housework.

Figure 3, S.O.S. ‘Starification
Object Series’, Hannah Wilke, 1974.



Indulging the second wave, Hannah Wilke (1974)
used her naked body in a series of images, as her artistic material
(Kleiner,2009). Her images are real and metaphorically erotic and unique, which
display both pleasure and pain. She takes one step further to use her upper
half naked body as a backdrop, with sculptures of vulvas randomly stuck to her
using gum (rather than clay), Wilke stating that, “I chose gum because it’s the perfect
metaphor for the American woman – chew her up, get what you want out of her,
throw her out and pop in a new piece” (Wilke, 1980:77). In this series, Wilke
mimics the representation of women (mostly those in advertisements) by posing
glamorously, whilst the viewer is distracted by the unpleasant scars on her
body. In aid of this, Wilke hoped that women would ”take control off and have
pride in the sensuality of their own bodies” (1989). Her goal was to use the
image as an attack on popular pictures of women. As a result of this, the
second wave of feminism introduced the ability to express oneself throughout


Benglis, who was originally a sculptor, responds strongly in her 1974 art piece
to an earlier ad by Robert Morris’ The ‘Infamous’ (1974), which both images were
intended to highlight the absurdity of the sort of hyper-masculinity that
dominated the art world. ‘The Infamous’ (1974), illustrates the artist nude
from the waist up, to only be attired in steel chains, studded collar,
sunglasses, wrist restraints and military style helmet. Some of Bengils motivation
behind the advertisements was to generate amusement into the feminist art
movement, for example the
erotic sex figurine; however many critics were not humoured and were infuriated
by the images and realised
she is eager to make of the divisions of both genders (Allen,2011). This shows,
that even though the act of denunciation of the male-dominance was implied, it
wasn’t appreciated by everyone, especially by feminists at the time (Smith,



3, ‘The “infamous”‘,                                 Figure 4,’ Advertisement in Artforum’,

                   Robert Morris’ 1974                                                                 Lynda Benglis 1974.

During the late
1960’s and early 1970’s, feminism fundamentally changed contemporary art
practice, critiquing its assumptions and radically  altering its structures and methodologies (
Butler, Mark, 2007). However, questions
have been raised on what exactly that contribution is and how important it has
been. Based on the controversial posters from ‘The Guerrilla Girls’, it goes
without saying the impact they have made on contemporary art. ‘The Guerrilla
Girls’ were activists in the feminism movement, in which they promote humorous
visuals and outrageous facts to expose gender and ethnic related problems, to gain equal access in
political art, pop culture, film, and music. Having encounter the mass media on their own ground with a ‘hidden
agenda’, as they put it, they’re determination fights the unfair and shocking
image the media portray women as. They monitor the scene and expose the
shameful statistics at a fast working pace. Receiving which have been known
craven apologies as well as outraged self-justifications (Lippard,1995), this proves that their work is being acknowledged from
their targets.


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