March 21, 2008
Watching Women Street Art
Act 12 is a mix of a work I have had brewing for a while, given new inspiration by the HollaBack Australia web site (see Act 10). While it is not directly connected to the HollaBack site, the idea of the use of cameras as a tool/symbol for reclamation of power is directly taken from there. Before HollaBack, the original idea was to create sticker/stencil art of ‘watching women’ to be distributed in areas that are traditionally considered less than safe, with the intention of there then being a ‘mother figure’ watching the area. Areas like dark alleyways are given extra scare power by their covert nature—because no one is watching it is easy to imagine predators believing it is okay to behave in a manner they might not otherwise choose when under scrutiny—I wanted to put someone watching in these places. I wanted to put ‘watching mammas’ in these places, knowing that it is hard to behave badly knowing that your mother, or even someone else’s mother, is watching you. The idea has moved on from there, and for now I have taken it in a slightly different direction, with the intention of returning to the mother figure idea at a later date.
I have chosen to make stencil art versions of women in iconic paintings, and (as inspired by the HollaBack site) given them cameras to record their observations. I have really enjoyed this take on the idea, I love that these women, whose sole purpose in existence has been to be viewed, have now become the viewers. I love the sense of reversing of power, and of course it is humorous, whimsical, and just a bit silly at the same time. It was important to me at this level of the project to choose women whose purpose was purely decorative—although it could be argued that each of the iconic women has a certain power of their own already, the mystery of the Mona Lisa and her knowing half smile and watchful eyes, and of course Venus is herself a goddess—yet as they are reduced to being objects of the pleasure of onlookers they seem to me to be disenfranchised women.
These are designed to be distributed, so please take them, print them out, grab yourself a pot of glue and post them wildly (ahem, in any spot you have authority to do so, of course). Let them run free and observe the world. I have uploaded them to flickr as A4 print resolution PNG files (which can be obtained by downloading the ‘original size’ file from the images flickr page) to make them easy to print, but feel free to scale them to any suitable size.