Talking to Les was really helpful and so far i have acted mainly on the street art side and considered all the different work roles we all take on. I made a list:
taking/collecting kids from school
cleaning : clothes, home
answering emails and messages on phone and/or computer
caring for elderly, the sick, family, children
walking the dog
looking for work / writing cv
managing finances : online, in bank, paying bills etc
taking children to the park/activities
waiting for bus / metro – travelling to work / interviews
This was my starting point for the new figure in the street such as:
What I had not understood until I looked at Les’s list was that Happy Families are actually about professions. I might have known this and forgotten. So I am hoping I can include them in my new intervened flyers – which I am thinking of making as physical collages at least to start with.
the whole family is defined by the male’s profession – these are from Sir John Tenniel commissioned in 1851 – http://www.wopc.co.uk/games/jaques-happy-families
In this mid 19th century game all the work women did seems to be invisible.
I have been experimenting with the display of my work in the studio and having seen an artwork recently which was made from tape I wondered if I could use the tape with my see through work and play with the transparency. I really like the positioning but unfortunately the tape does not stay rigid enough to be effective but it has given me the idea of either using a very rigid material in place of the tape or finding a way of holding a more flexible material more firmly to ceiling and floor.
I decided I needed to connect directly or indirectly to prostitutes through their organisations. I am therefore writing to Colectivo Hetaira.
this is my translation of the email:
I am a visual artist who is interested in the stories of the everyday life of ordinary people. In much of my recent work I focus on the world of work and especially on women’s work. Over the past year I have been finding flyers for sex workers and in cars, originally in the south of Madrid and more recently in more central neighbourhoods. I am using them as a starting point for new ideas. The images and texts raise more questions than answers especially when they describe women as ‘independent’ or ‘adult’ because this appears suspicious and I would like to know if independent workers really use this type of publicity.
I would like to transmit the idea that sex work is as dignified, or more so in some cases, as other work. As an artist I am independent I do not have a gallery or dealer, I exhibit in independent galleries, artist run spaces and in the streets. I would really appreciate the opinion of of the collective of my initial ideas that are in my web page if you have time to take a look. They are in the section: ‘Artwork/Obras’ – ‘Trabajadoras sexuales /sex workers, and I am interested in any advice, direction or opinion that you might have the time to give me.
Soy una artista visual quien trabaja sobre las historias de la vida cotidiana de gente desconocida. En concreto mucho de mis últimas obras tratan del mundo laboral especialmente de las mujeres y sus historias. Desde el año pasado he encontrado la publicidad del trabajo sexual en los coches, primero en el sur de Madrid y luego en zonas más céntricas y lo estoy utilizando como punto de partida para desarrollar nuevas ideas. Las imágenes y textos me dan más dudas que respuestas sobre todo cuando ponen mensajes como ‘independientes’ o ‘major de edad’ porque me parece sospechosas y me gustaría saber si trabajadoras independientes realmente hacen este tipo de publicidad.
Me gustaría trasmitir que el trabajo sexual es una profesión tan o, en algunos casos, más digna como cualquier otra. Como artista soy independiente y no tengo ni galería ni marchante, expongo en galerías independientes, en espacios autogestionados y en la calle. Me gustaría tener la opinión del colectivo sobre mis ideas iniciales que están en mi página web si tenéis un momento para mirar. Están en la sección ‘Artwork/Obras’ – ‘Trabajadoras sexuales’ y me interesa cualquier consejo, orientación u opinión que tengáis tiempo para darme.
This year I have been back to life drawing on the Mondays we don’t have hangouts. I am really pleased about this as although I work mainly from found images -ie. 2D photographs and I work quickly I love working from a live model and I believe this feeds in to my studio work. I have included sketches where I only look at the model not the paper because I still love these as much as when I first did them as a teenager.
As an experiment for TYB I thought I would try pasting a cloth prostitute in the street last weekend. I had painted on calico and so she is a lot thicker than the muslin experiments. I had forgotten that I meant to make an experiment with tape with this figure. I didn’t realise until I had stuck it up in the street that she looked so much like one of those Julian Opie figures – although her head is attached. Today, one week later she is still there and part of the Sunday Rastro, the flea market. I doubt it will continue but I feel amazed she lasted so long, she is more robust than paper wheat pastes which only usually last long if they are really high up ie made with a step ladder.
I now feel more motivated to add more female workers to the street. In the studio this week I have been working on panels of paper with all kinds of undervalued work:
The panels include prostitutes as well as laundry women, nurses and cooks. The central idea being how all of these professions are undervalued as women’s work. All the photos are from local sources and I could also use these for the street works.
This was my first attempt on Friday of making flyers and putting them in the cars in my street. The flyers looked ok but on the cars they kind of disappeared. It is also really hard to know how they fared. I cannot hang around all day to see if there is any reaction. Also they are practically invisible and although they are alongside the other publicity. I am both disappointed and pleased. Disappointed they didn’t get seen (or I could not know about this) and really pleased that I tried this as an experiment at this stage. I also thought a lot more about my ideas about prostitution and I think I want to focus on the element of pride all women should have in their work. The groups I follow on social media for instance are pleased to be independent and outside of patriarchal systems. Of course they are anti trafficking and therefore want it to be decriminalised but are against legalization as they would become part of a corrupt system. Of course much of prostitution is corrupt too (trafficking and pimping) the decriminalisation would help at least a little with this. It would also stop it being the workers who are criminals when we know that the users come from all walks of life. This is a huge hidden trade. Given the timescale of this project I cannot hope to deal with all of this I feel I can do nothing more than add a message of dignity and respect for the women working this profession. In doing this I am being a little like the Spanish politicians of all parties who also refuse to give firm statements on the subject.
Sunday 7th – More Flyers
After some great suggestions by other students in my cohort I remade the flyers bigger (A5) and added text. I drew on kitchen cloths as I am interested in the value of women’s work and it’s traditions and took more images from the flyers for mine.
I took these a little further afield to where there are cars allowed on a Sunday, in my street there is a flea market today so it was impossible. the flyers are more visible but I still have no feedback. Another student suggested I film reactions. This I could do in my street, however, I am worried that there will be little to film maybe this just doesn’t work. I wonder why the idea feels right but it doesn’t work. Nevertheless I am glad I tried it.
There is currently an exhibition in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris about this which looks specifically at the 19th Century in that city. However, I was interested to look farther back at how courtesans and young boys or bardassas said to have been used by Carravagio have been used as models for artwork since the renaissance and probably before.
Vecchio’s Blonde Woman is a courtesan and we know this because she holds flowers – this symbolism dates back to roman times. Titian’s models were also supposed to have been courtesans.
Carravagio’s barrdassa’s show shoulders and offer fruit and flowers. As in the renaissance times (Michelangelo came out as gay but claimed celebacy) gay sex was illegal so Carravagio denied he was in these relationships, we will never know for certain.
The relationship between artist and model had been central to this debate, whether the model was a prostitute or not. Why then was Manet’s Olympia so shocking? Supposedly it is the gaze of Olympia (a name which identifies her as a prostitute) along with the orchid, oriental shawl and other accessories. She is unashamedly a prostitute and this resonates with what is happening now. There are a number of women who have blogs and are proud of their work. blog example
I need to consider whether and how I could use art history other than a simple appropriation which I am not sure would add anything to the debate.
I feel I am really behind with this part of the course as I am unable to decide what to do. I was going to put flyers, in cars in the street as a counter dialogue with a totally unknown public and in order to start a debate about prostitution. I am worried that I am not really connecting to people and the debate is so confusing I am not even sure where I stand within it. The only things I am certain of is that I am against trafficking, and I think it should be legalized and the workers treated with greater respect. Beyond that I have many doubts. These would be my starting points for the flyers:
On the other hand I would like to introduce my sketches which are freer:
and combine these with art historical references such as:
However what type of debate do I want and what type of audience am I engaging? How would this be taken any more seriously than if I was doing it in a gallery? I am not sure what type of reaction I really want. I am also worried that this is too safe an option. Going out on the street and putting flyers on cars is no more adventurous than wheat pasting or spraying using stencils (arguably less so). It still feels quite logical so maybe I should make some flyers and just do one or two streets is different areas. My street and one further South for example and then reflect further on the audience and the reaction (if any).
There is a lot happening at the moment in the news about the exhumation of the victims of the dictatorship which are in unmarked graves. This is about the family members who are reclaiming via the Argentinian courts as crimes against humanity in order to bury their relatives properly.
article in English – the guardian
So I also considered some kind of a protest about this using anonymous victims and projecting them in some way once I had painted or drawn them. They could be projected onto a government building. However after searching for images it becomes really unclear who is who and although I believe in the idea of anonymity I do not know how to make it clear who they are.
After painting a couple I realized they could be anyone from any of my paintings – which is because my paintings for a long while have been about anonymity and unknown people. For this project, however, I don’t think this makes much sense. I am still interested in trying a projector. Maybe I should project the prostitutes. I feel at a bit of a loss with TYB. the guerilla street art doesn’t feel like enough of a challenge. I feel like a real challenge would be to have to approach people about my work and try to make new connections. However, I am not sure with whom or where.