Throughout the year, constellation has acted as a way for me to be able to refine my knowledge and become more confident on my ability to have an opinion backed up by facts when it comes to the things I have looked into. The work that I’ve made over the past 5 years, after really becoming in tune with my creative self, has always been quite formulaic. My work has always explored things within my own life that have affected me or helped me grow in some way. Femininity, sexuality and being a female in today’s society are all things that have reoccurred time and time again within my art work academically, however I’d never considered why I felt such a strong connection within these key aspects or what it is about these topics that inspire me to create work in the first place. Whilst creating this work I’d always used the colour pink with no other thought put towards it other than it being my favourite colour and something which I find aesthetically pleasing when used within the context of my art work. By deciding to focus on the colour pink as the basis within my dissertation I was able to gain a higher understanding as to why the colour had always been such a mainstay within my work. I learned about how my emotional connections to the colour not only influenced my art work, but the connotations I had with the colour. I was able to realise how by exploring sexuality, gender and femininity within my work I was subconsciously connecting these topics with the colour pink due to the way society has taught me that pink is the most female colour of all. By learning this in my approach to constellation I was able to explore the relationship between the colour pink and feminism within my feminist work, which has only continued to inform the work I create. This has only continued to introduce me to new aspects of art work such as zines and feminist poster art which is something that I ended up using as a starting point within my subject work.
One of the most interesting aspects of colour pink I was introduced to through my constellation work is how deeply engrained our brains connections with colour are and how this can have such a huge knock on effect to aspects of our sociological viewpoints such as our now internalised misogyny we experience when we use the colour pink as an advertising device or a selling point. It’s made me realise that it’s difficult to know if I enjoy the colour pink purely for its aesthetics alone, or if this is something that has been targeted towards me to like since I was a little girl. This is something that I’m still not able to be sure as, however I’m now able to pinpoint the way in which the colour can be used as more than just something for my own appeal, but instead as a feminist or political statement.
The way in which I approach my work has changed significantly through the process of the constellation period. I now try to look closer at my own work and try to realise why it is I choose to use certain formats and what are the relationships between these things and the world around me. Quite often I’d have a tendency to reduce the ways in which I worked down to just enjoying that style or creative process. I’m currently in the process of creating video art containing my own body with the style heavily influenced by avant-garde film makers such as David Lynch. To begin with, I reduced wanting to work this way down to an enjoyment of the films of Lynch and the ease of which there was in being able to film my own body as I could have total control over the imagery. I’m now able to see that there are many deeper forces in play as to why I choose to work in this format. Through learning about the colour pink in constellation I learned about it’s deep connection with female sexuality. I read extensively about the way female sexuality has been reduced into something easy to package as a marketing technique, rather than something that is expressed by the woman as a form of empowerment. This made me realise that the way in which I chose to express my sexuality was something that I chose to do out of my feelings of being independent and sexually free rather than to pander to a male audience or a male gaze, something I looked into within both my constellation work and my subject work. This is something I intend to carry on exploring throughout my work as it’s only ended up helping me access and become more introspective in regards to my mental process whilst creating art work. So far, this work has been very successful which I do put in part down to my constellation work. By successful I mean that it’s enabled me to explore a topic freely and which the knowledge to understand why things such as female sexuality and the male gaze are important within the creation of video art as with a lot of female nude within cinema, more often than not there is a male behind the lens, I now understand what it means to have an eye as a female video art maker.
I originally chose to explore the colour pink as it’s my favourite colour. Through learning the ins and outs of its usages within media, connections with female sexuality, connotations with LGBT and its declaiming and reclaiming through the feminist community, I’m not able to fully realise why it is I enjoy this colour. Pink encapsulates what I intend to be as a female artists and all of the main things that influence my creative process.
(I was absent during the constellation lectures in first term due to mitigating circumstances so have elected to discuss my dissertation instead)
My favourite colour is pink. It has been for all of my adult life. For me, it brings up images of riot grrrl zines, scraped knees and the artwork of Cy Twombly. For most people, this isn’t really what they tend to imagine when thinking of the colour. Most people’s minds will immediately go to things such as Barbie, the breast cancer awareness ribbon and baby girl’s blankets. There are two things that link those items together. The first is that they’re all very much gender specific to women. Barbie has continued to be on a great deal of little girls Christmas lists since its inception in 1959, the breast cancer awareness ribbon was chosen to be pink because of its feminine symbolism and baby girls are bought the colour pink to tell them apart from boys starting the day they are born. By now, you have already noticed the second similarity between those objects, they’re all advertised using the colour pink. Consumers buy into the gender stereotyping every day without even being aware of the gender specific marketing tactics being put in place. I’m a feminist, so gender has always been a significant thing to me when I think about my favourite colour. I refused to wear pink as an angst-ridden pre-teen because it was ‘too girly’, which I’m very much ashamed of looking back, and because it wasn’t ‘edgy’ enough. Today I’m able to see that pink is an incredibly edgy colour, not just for its hue, but for its history and its symbolism.
I’m choosing to do my dissertation on the colour pink as it is an incredibly interesting colour to me. It had its big insurgence during the rococo period and has now resurged in feminist modern art as a colour of strength as well as gender. The colour was originally dismissed by feminists as a colour of gender oppression, being seen as something to avoid as buying into the gender stereotyping consumer culture would also be buying into casual sexism and the idea that women were seen as not being feminine if they chose not to wear pink. However, it has now been reclaimed by feminists. Feminists have taken the idea that the colour pink represents gender oppression and have turned it on its head by proclaiming that the colour pink can be representative of more than just being dainty and fragile and that there is no shame in liking the colour regardless of its gender stereotyping. The artist Karen Hiller spoke about the colour in an interview with the Guardian stating that ‘Hot pink is feisty and grown up. In that tonal choice people are saying: ‘We’re not going to be seen as weak,’ and ‘Don’t mess with me.’ http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/10/think-pink-how-the-colour-is-being-reclaimed.
The use of the colour pink in art has always being incredibly aesthetically pleasing to me. It can be used in so many ways and to represent anything from purity and innocence to sex and pornographic content. Pink is often used in art work in a sexual way, which relates to the slang term for vagina which is ‘pink’. The colour also can be used to represent things of a more visceral nature. Some examples of the colour pink in art are:
This installation piece by the artist Kennedy James is very similar in subject matter as the pink is not only used in a sexual way by depicting bondage with the ropes being tied around the chair, but also gender. You gender the chair as having female qualities despite it being an inanimate object due to the light pink shade of the rope being used. The colour also relates to the way the chair being bondage tied is submitting.
I also use pink a lot in my own art work. When I’m creating my art work a lot of it is very personal in nature. I tend to be very frank in my work and discuss matters such as feminism, sex and gender. The colour pink is a great way to demonstrate these ideas as it fits so well within the context of the work as well as it having so many symbolisms that the viewer will feel upon seeing the work.
After having finished writing my dissertation it is safe to say that upon reflection that I have definitely enjoyed the Smells Like Teen Spirit module. I have always been fascinated with clothing and style, especially style that relies heavily on a musical genre, and the ways in which music and style can inform one another. It was also interesting to learn how the idea of a subculture has become fairly lost on this generation.
For me personally, the most interesting week during this module was the week in which we learned about the style within the teddy boy culture. I am fairly anamoured with 50s fashion and style so it was very interesting to learn more about the reasons why men that dressed in the teddy boy style would do so e.g. age, background, politics (see blog post https://broganknight.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/constellation-zuit-suits-b-boys-teds/).
One of the things that caught my attention the most during the module was how heavily masculinity and male style culture was essentially ‘the norm’. A lot of the subcultures such as teddy boys, b-boys, metal culture ect. were mostly masculine cultures. Whereas most people would consider style and fashion to be feminine topics, it was enlightening to realise just how much influence males had on the aesthetics of each subculture. It was due to this that I decided to look at metal subcultures. As I grew up listening to metal music due to my brothers, I never truly realised how much the patriarchy had influenced it. It was definitely an eye-opener considering I enjoy glam metal music, yet consider myself a feminist. Due to the poppy sound and the bright clothes I had never before skimmed the surface in terms of any deeper meaning within the look, the attitude or the musical content. It was not until my research for the dissertation that I began to realise how glaringly obvious the mysogonistic understones where.
Since completing the module, it is safe to say that what I have learned has directly informed the way in which I chose my clothes and piece together outfits. My favourite decade within fashion and style is the 60’s, specifically 1967, and after having done the module I am finding myself asking if an item of clothing or an outfit looks strictly ‘mod’ or if I have instead used Polhemus’ idea of the ‘supermarket of style’ in regards to the different items I piece together.
I definitely believe that I will be using what I have learnt within my future art projects. Subcultures and style seem to go far beyond just fashion and can be explored further in a multitude of ways. As my work tends to be heavily influenced by video art and photography, style is something which often can go hand in hand. I have for a very long time wanted to produce something Jean-Luc Goddard inspired, and now I am able to pin-point why I would like to, and put it down to my love of the 60’s mod fashion, and fashion icons, within his films. Hopefully I shall be able to look further into this concept in my future work, but for now I will just have to show my love for the culture by wearing the clothes myself.
An idea that I have for constellation is to look at two subcultures, underneath the same umbrella culture, and look at the similarities and differences. The other culture I am looking at is glam metal. I feel like it is a good fashion to contrast against black metal as black metal follows more of the Birmingham school’s concepts of political and social means to creating a subculture, whereas glam metal is more about creating a fashion for the sake of being eccentric and looking different. The picture I am looking at is this one of Motley Crue:
Which in comparison to this black metal picture I am looking at, there’s a lot to talk about:
It is interesting to note how the harajuku style is informed by the styles of other subcultures such as punk by seemingly using Polhemus’ idea of the ‘supermarket of style’. The most interesting aspect of this subculture to me is the large female influence and ability to dress unapologetically feminine. It is not often amongst subcultural styles where femininity and female stereotypes, such as the use of the colour pink and the frilly socks, are seemingly celebrated. As a lot of subcultures have such a heavy masculine image it is refreshing as a feminist to see a style in which being feminine is not seen as a weakness and can be easily paired with strong transgressive styles such as punk in order to present a strong female image.
As a female in the 21st century, this was one of the most interesting weeks for me in terms of learning about why subcultural style is not as apparent in todays culture. As a person who has always enjoyed dressing in the styles of a multitude of different subcultural styles, goth, mod, rockabilly and punk to name a few, it was interesting to learn that there is a form of sociology dedicated to this. Sweetman’s 2004 analogy of the difference between travelers and tourists really did open my eyes as I have often contemplated myself the ways in which some people tend to flit on the wings of fashion whereas others seem to be solely dedicated to one subculture or period in fashion.
On the topic, here is Sid Vicious in 1973 on his way to see David Bowie. Only 4 years later he joined the Sex Pistols