Marie Kristiansen: HERE THEY ARE, Portraits of the female masquerade

09.01.08-13.01.08 (Galleri A)

Utstillingen finner sted i Galleri A

Artist Statement:

Portraits of the female masquerade
By Marie Kristiansen, London 2007

One is always in representation, and when a woman is asked to take place in this representation she is of course asked to represent a mans desire.[1]

Helen Cixus quote describes women’s situation in the past, but in my opinion it is still valid in the present representation of women. My main concern is to discuss post feminism in relation to female representation in popular culture in the West. Several feminist authors view the objectification of women as one of the main ways in which women are subordinated in a sexist society. In their view, the objectification of women involves the disregarding of personal abilities and capabilities such as intelligence and problem solving skills. They are instead associated with their physical attractiveness and submissiveness and are categorized as “sexual playthings”. Historically, women have often been valued mostly for their physical attributes. [2]

“It is from pop culture that most people in our society get their entertainment and their information. It is here that woman and men are offered their cultures dominant definitions of themselves”[3]

There is a new era of female “liberation” where it is empowering to be a sex symbol that is everywhere present in media, in my opinion you can se the result of this in television shows like for instance the American “girls gone wild”. A show based on teenage college students “flashing their tits”. They make out with each other and do other obscene things that would be more suitable in an adult movie. They compete with each other to be the sexiest and nastiest in order to impress the producers and be screened on TV.

At the very start of her carrier teenage role model Paris Hilton accidentally lost a video, which contained her having sex with her boyfriend. This video was put on the Internet and Hilton became wildly famous. Some people believe that this was a deliberate pr stunt. Even if it wasn’t it has resulted in young women putting their sexual explicit videos and pictures on the Internet. They do this to be famous within their own environment, forinstanse in school. Even acclaimed athletes pose naked in men’s magazines today to express their sexuality, and prove to the male population that they are not just great athletes but also sexy and willing.

In my opinion post-feminism is based on the marked value of both the male and the female sex. However, as women’s sex appeal has become the primary market value, both men and women choose to sell the feminine sex. To solve the contradiction between value based feminism and market based post feminism, women often choose to separate their private life and personality from their official sales appearance, which is their body.

Benjamin Franklin whom was the architect behind the saying “business has neither friends nor relatives”, stresses the importance of not letting the market take part in your personality.[4] He was one of the first to see that in a capitalistic society it is not the personality but the market value that counts, in this case the female sex. The ideal consumers are always shopping for new superficial identities, and are forcing popular culture to continually renew women through representation. And very often the esthetics performance, and not the quality is what are of most importance.

“ Men look at women, women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations of men to women, but the relation of women to themselves”[5]
John Berger.

1. Cixus,Helen.(1985) “The discourse of Others: Feminism and postmodernism”. In Foster.H.(ed.) Postmodern culture. London; Pluto press p.61

2. Feminism Wikipedia: (Accessed 15th Jan. 2007)

3. Marshment, M.(1988) Women as viewers of popular culture. In: Gamman, L. ed. The Female Gaze. London:The Women`s Press Limited.

4. Richard, S. (2006) The Culture in the New Capitalism. London: Yale UP, New Haven and London.

5. Wolf, N. Ibis. P. 273.

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