To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve asked some of our favourite people to choose a piece of culture which celebrates women in whatever way they seem fit. From songs, famed pieces of art, films,pieces of history and even peoples own creations, the variety of ideas and people chosen for this piece come from the backgrounds of photographers, fashion designers, stylists, tattooers, writers, artists, film makers and publishers.
I would ilike to dedicate the invention of the Vibrator to celebrate International Women’s day.
Tyrone Lebon –
Nina Simone – Do What You Gotta Do cover and photograph of my Mum’s fridge.
The lyrics to this song have always felt heartbreaking to me, I enjoy wallowing in it. There’s a live performance of Nina Simone singing it on youtube that I absolutely love. I’ve definitely sobbed to it a few times. I was just looking for the link to send to you and fate took its course and suggested instead this ukulele version sung by this nice beardy man. Somehow this version seems to make more sense for this. Also here is a scan from a contact sheet of a photo I’m yet to print properly. Its of my mum’s fridge with a sticker which says “MY MUM IS NICE”. So I would like to play this song and look at this photo and give those moments to recognise both my mother and the other women I have loved – for this International Women’s day.
Women in general. People in general , are not my concern.
Loop my Loop by Helen Chadwick 1991
I’ve chosen this, as it’s both beautiful and grotesque. The flowing feminine hair looped in with the intestines displays, to me, the often overlooked duality of femininity.
A post from Tumblr which changed my life.
Bunny Gets Snookered by Sarah Lucas 1998
Stuffed panty hose languishing over chairs dressed in various coloured stockings, provocative yet hilarious sculptures in a submissive headless state, Sarah Lucas’ ‘bunny girls’ are spookily engaging and strangely empowered. The fact they are missing their heads turns their seductive nature back in on themselves… A sort of piss take out of what men stereotypically deem to be sexy and the way women use alluring signifiers. That’s something to think about. Sarah likes to throw out all sorts of messages with her sexuality charged work. She uses comical and suggestive titles and imagery to explain the world she sees and we all live in. As you can tell I’m a great fan!
Transactivations , video by Mae Ryan
presenting the work of LA based artists Heather Cassils and Zachary Drucker, who are both presenting alternative images of female bodies to the heteronormative mainstream standards, using performances and performativity. Because womanhood does not have to be cisgendered or feminine in the traditional sense.
I found this photo in a free newspaper in 2006 on my way to work on International Women’s Day. It was one of those strange little snippets that you get in tabloids with a photo and an accompanying sentence with no other larger story.
I’ve had this picture on the wall of my studio for years and I’ve never been able to find out exactly where it came from, the ladies look like their from South East Asia, maybe Malaysia or Indonesia.
I love the fact that there is a large possibility that these women are from a deeply Muslim culture but they are celebrating this day by wearing something evidently similar to a vagina on their heads. It’s a little bit pagan. The naivety of the drawing is great, and that mixed with the power of the visualisation of a vagina makes it even better, then adding on top of all of this the women are wearing them on their heads. You can’t ignore them.
It’s the most potent sign of their women hood. It is their celebration of a day to celebrate being themselves.
I chose this piece because I feel that embroidery is a female dominated art form. As well it depicts a nude Virgin Mary, beautiful saintly and natural, showing empathy for things that could lead to a fall from ee (booze/drugs, gambling/money).
I like this piece because I put a lot of time and care into it
Steve Terry of Wild Life Press –
‘Love Ladyfag and love this photo! She is turning it out right now party wise in New York with the most fun crowd. In a city where many people are thinking its game over club wise she is creating something that feels like a slice of classic NYC nightlife, but is also super fresh!
‘Variety’, a 1983 film directed by Bette Gordon and written by Nan Goldin and Kathy Acker
“It’s high time we talked about female sexuality, what the female body is, images of female sexuality, what women really desire. For years women have not been allowed to explore what their self-images are, what could be possible self-images, or what images of desire are.” Kathy Acker
My chosen piece for International Women’s Days is ‘Variety’, a 1983 film directed by Bette Gordon and written by Nan Goldin and Kathy Acker. It tells the story of Christine (Sandy McLeod) who after deciding to work at a porno theatre begins to nurture an obsession with the erotic and overly sexualised surroundings, rather than distance herself from it. The power of the film does not lie in the body as a sexual tool, nor in the act of sex itself but of the honest and open female gaze of Christine. She embraces her sexuality and in doing so attempts to invert the male-female power structures of the hegemonic world of male pornography. She challenges desire as an object AND as a voyeur, which in turn constructs an engagement with the power of the erotic imagination. Her thoughts along with yours on International Women’s day should confront the sexual influence of the mind, regardless of gender. Be fearless, curious.
This is a painting that I did last year of Ariel with a mandala behind her. I drew this to combine all of the love of fantasy that I have with an interpretation of a circular pattern to represent to me what looks like mother earth’s reproductive system.
Ada Lovelace, Angela Belcher and Beater Gordon
Three of my favourite women are the mind blowers; Ada Lovelace, Angela Belcher and Beater Gordon. Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron, whose mother keen that she shouldn’t become a smack head like her dad, encouraged her to learn mathematics. But this duel background and merging of scientific and romantic threads in Ada’s head, lead to the sort of resolving of cognitive dissonances that is so oft a driver of innovation, giving Ada the insights and drive to create the world’s first computer programmes in conduction with Charles Babbage. Beate Sirota Gordan was a 22-year-old translator who working for the United States, ended up writing the Japanese constitution after WW2. Including in it, the at the time radical Article 24: Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual co-operation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis. With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes. Still very much active is Angela Belcher, a Texan scientist working at MIT on the engineering of organisms to build novel materials, for example she has found a way to genetically engineer viruses to make batteries and inspired by sea-creatures ability to construct shells is working on a way for organisms to produce semi-conductors. She is wild.
Jeanne Salome Rochat
Being a woman means having SO MANY choices and options.
And the image is of course, Christian Dior 2015
Laura Jane Grace
What I’m contributing is actually something very recent, but I find it very attractive and inspiring.
My friend Ryan Lowry took this photo of Laura Jane Grace. Many people know her as the singer of Against Me!, but she is also a transgender woman as well as a mother. I think some conservative and closed minded people in this world believe that she doesn’t deserve the right to be called a woman, but I find it an insult to not allow someone the right to embrace who they are and how they feel- despite what gender they were born or what people may think. Being confident enough to run with it despite whatever circumstances are present is a very applaudable and inspiring thing to do, and its pretty clear to me that she has given other transgender women and men alike, the ability to wholeheartedly embrace and love who they are. She’s sick. People like her are worth celebrating.
Though the celebratory nature of its narrative isn’t immediately obvious, the circumstances in which it was written seemed the greatest instance of a woman vying for empowerment I could think of; written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1890 in overwhelmingly male-dominated US, its very existence is an act of defiance. Penned in response to a doctor treating her for depression, Gilman’s protagonist leaves a series of irony-laced journal entires depicting her mental health rapidly unravelling into a maniacal frenzy as a result of a period of confinement prescribed by her husband, a doctor. It’s funny to think that before feminism existed in the collective consciousness she was sat at her desk confidently questioning patriarchal oppression with two fingers firmly up.
Doris Kloster’s book Forms of Desire
So for my contribution to Women’s Day I’d like to include Doris Kloster and specifically her photography book Forms of Desire. I didn’t have time to make scans and it’s difficult to find images from it online but I’m attaching some smaller files. I’ve been hugely inspired by her work as it was one of the first photography books I came across to focus on female fetish photography and sexual expression. The gender depictions in the photos are majestic, proud, and range from the subtle to the full-on male drag. I love how the subjects appear very open and in control of their own image and presentation versus a more voyeuristic or secretive approach on the part of the photographer.
I love Eva Švankmajerová; her paintings her sculptures her writing and her drawings.
Without forcing too much on to this painting which -as one of her most accessible- speaks for itself, her work is about flesh and touch and relating (or not) and queries and fears and passions and apprehensions. For me, her work therefore celebrates more than being women, it celebrates being human.
Tracy Chapman to me encompasses utter natural beauty.
It’s such a shame that there are so few women of African descent that feel such a huge pressure to spend painstaking amounts of hours to transform themselves. This drive is undoubetly enforced by the likes of super stars Beyonce who have carved out such a specific whitened version of beauty which women try to emulate.
Tracy Chapman has been in the public eye for years but has never forged her appearance under the pressure of how the media manipulate African American women into feeling how they should look.
She doesn’t use make-up which is lighter than her own skin tone, she has natural hair, which isn’t relaxed or has a weave and her body is her own – she doesnt bow down under the pressue of fashionable body shapes either. She is completely comfortable with her appearance as a black woman and therefore radiates incredible beauty to me.
A painting that I did of Lilith especially for today.
When Adam was in the Garden of Eden he became bored of copulating with the animals. So God made him Lilith who was his first wife before Eve.
Christians think that it is a sin to have women above men within the sexual act, which left Lilith with immense feelings of dissatisfaction due to Adam’s clumsy, unadventurous and crude love making skills.
So Lilith cursed Adam and left the Garden of Eden. She went to the Red Sea to make herself a new home which was obviously an insult to God as he had created her for Adam. This made God very angry.
To try and tackle this dilemma God sent for three angels to bring her back to the Garden of Eden, so they flew to the red Sea and discovered her copulating with all sorts of devils and beasts. She enjoyed their love making far more than Adam’s provincial concepts of sex.
When the angels confronted her, she seduced all three of them which concluded in them living with her. However by them staying with her they lost their wings and grew scales and horns.
Lilith remained quite happily at the Red Sea and produced one hundred children a day. The female children she created were birthed as succubus’s. So she therefore invented these mythical creatures who are plagued throughout legendary history as seductresses who provoke immense sexual activity to the point of death to which ever men they tackled.
It is rather hard to find out anything about her. She does pop up in Jewish mythology, it seems that the church have attempted to discard her story.
Although my mother considers herself a Christian, (even though they would probably burn her at the stake instantly) she would tell me these stories in a positive light.
For me this particular story was never told in a way which demonized women, it was about empowered women who got away with what they want and that is why I have chosen this story and to paint it for International Women’s Day.
Girls Don’t Zine.
Exposing the ridiculous expectations on females within modern society, I love Girls Don’t as it not only makes light of patriarchal inflicted taboos but also celebrates a bunch of amazing female identified artists. Curated by Photographer Joanna Kiely, and presented on a post-Internet saccharine backdrop, Girls don’t covers topics ranging from masturbation and gender queerness to messy bed sheets and menstruation. I think it’s rare to find work that’s confrontational but also celebratory, and whilst the zine definitely exposes the stupidity in these rituals women are pressured to undertake, there’s also a comfort in the shared experience of these acts such as tweezing out a singular nipple hair. Now on it’s second issue, in my opinion the zine represents a mood shared amongst many young female’s within the arts today in the sense that we’re all trying to support each other creatively whilst also attempting to initiate feminist conversation, thought and debate.
“This a video of Barcelona punk band Desechables performing “No Me Consigues Divertir,” which translates to “You Fail To Amuse Me.” Tere Desechables, the singer, is both ferocious and feminine; her power and swagger are tangible even in when watching it on a computer screen nearly 30 years later.
DANCER BRONISLAVA NIJINSKA — MAN RAY 1922
Nijinska was a Russian dancer, choreographer, and teacher of Polish descent most famously known as the brother of Vaslav Nijinska. Nijinska played a leading role in the pioneering movement that turned against 19th-century Classicism, which paved the way for neoclassical works to come.
This photo was introduced to me 2 years ago at a performance at Soho theatre … I was so taken by it there’s not a day gone by that I’ve not looked at it at least once if not a dozen times…it speaks volumes and has become my religion…
A photo I took of Catherine and Dawn in the Essex suburbs which is where they are from.
Andrew Grune of Primitive
When Reba told me to think of something that celebrated women for this lovely day, the first thing I thought of was Lydia Lunch. She might seem like a bit of an obvious choice, she’s such an archetypal female icon who posses so much strength and attitude. When I was younger I used always listen to punk but what really stood out to me was that she was such a powerful force. Her look, her voice, everything that she stood for as a woman blew me away, and it still does everytime I listen to her! I chose this song because the original Dusty Springfield song is so perfectly feminine but she turned this version of Spooky in to an attitude filled bonanza.
Marsha P Johnson.
I thought long and hard about what to say but she’s so special I couldn’t conjure up the words. Everyone should know who she is, so if you don’t, look her up. Happy International Women’s day x
OK so this video which is a poetry reading by Marisa Takal. I have only written one line because she does all the talking! :) :) :)
Agostino Carracci, 16th Century
Portrait of Olimpia Luna as Judith and Melchiorre as Holofernes
Judith has always been somewhat of a female icon in artworks, mixing sensuality with conviction and strength. This portrait from 1590 creates an interesting fold in the story. After the death of his wife Olimpia, University of Bologna professor Melchiorre Zoppio requested that Carracci, his close friend, paint a portrait of his wife to evoke her praiseworthy qualities of chastity, wisdom, etc. The result, as we can see, is a framing of Olimpia as Judith, and, even more bizarre, her husband’s visage in the decapitated head of Holofernes. While modeling portraits on biblical scenes was hardly a rare practice, the utter absurdity of commissioning a portrait of one’s wife beheading him is mind-boggling. The image definitely places Olimpia in a lineage of brave, chaste, strong women, but I can only wonder at what it must have meant to her husband…
Loves Pina Bausch
“Maybe Its a Big Momma Thing”
The Couer D’Alene Indian who grew up a devout Roman Catholic not only left her stamp on the history of jazz as the legendary “Queen of Swing”, it could be said that Mildred Bailey was responsible for the careers of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. She was the woman who discovered Billie Holiday and it was her record collection that Bing Crosby was thumbing thru when her first heard Louis Armstrong.
Perhaps it was the maternal blood of the panhandle tribespeople who called themselves Skitswish “those who are found here” and named “Heart of An Awl” by the French Canadiann fur traders for the seemingly cutthroat trading skills that gave Bailey her, so called, boisterous edge.
A hustler out the gate, she landed a job at a locale cinema in Spokane playing piano at a local cinema and found herself demonstrating sheet music at Woolworth in Seattle by the age of 17. In the 1920s while working a plush speakeasy in LA she put her little brother, Al and his partner, her longtime friend, Bing Crosby up in her house and booked them gigs at the Morrisey Music Hall where they were billed as “Two Boys and a Piano”. Thru the depression years in the States she kept Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra on top after they began working together when the two had invited him to one of Bailey’s house parties.
As one of the first female professional orchestra singers her public noteriaty soared from half of Mr. And Mrs. swing, along with vibraphonist husband Red Norvo, to “The Rocking Chair Lady” after recording her then signature song, written for her by Hoagey Carmichael, with Eddie Lang and Benny Goodman’s Band…
Above: An obscure track by The Eddie Lang Orchestra exclusively in the UK in 1929 also written by Hoagey Carmichael.
Haley Wollens – Earth Kitt
Being a woman is my strength and my struggle. My vagina gets in the way of a lot things. I am an object when I want to be a peer. I am a bitch when I want to be a boss. She causes me pain, she let’s people in, she fills with pleasure, she repels. She is me. I am in control. I empowered. But I still deserve tenderness, sweetness. I am soft too, just like my vagina. Just like my vagina, I am ugly when I want to be. Truly gorgeous all the time.
I Was Thinking of You (1975)
I first saw this piece at Dorothy Iannone’s retrospective in Berlin last year, it’s a five minute video of Iannone’s face whilst she masturbates and reaches orgasm, encased in a painted box featuring an erotic scene of a man and a woman, a love poem written on either side and an ostrich feather boa. Iannone’s work features naked, powerful and provocative women (with body hair and swollen labia, like testes) engaging in sexual acts, accompanied by statements such as ‘the next great moment in history is ours’ and ‘suck my breasts, I am your beautiful mother’. It’s fearsome, satirical and a passionate testament to the endless beauty of our female bodies and minds.
I Was Thinking of You (also known as The Orgasm Box) is representative of Iannone, her work and her work’s radical feminist spirit as a whole; an unabashed and subliminal celebration of female sexuality and self love.
Olivia J Singer
Judy Chicago’s monumental installation The Dinner Party is one of my all-time favourite artworks. As women, we are often taught a history that excludes us, but there is a legacy of female strength in the world that can’t and shouldn’t be forgotten that Chicago celebrates – from Kali and the Fertile Goddess to Sojourner Truth and Virginia Woolf.
Women are told that our place isn’t now and has never been at the head of the table, that we are accessories to patriarchy rather than proponents of change and creativity. Judy Chicago (and her army of assistants, who turned typically feminised and domestic crafts like needlework into a revolutionary celebration) turns that idea on its head. And, while its problematic elements (its lack of intersectionality, for example) hold heavy weight, it stands an icon of the second-wave movement which – although no longer the future for feminism or equality – is a relevant and important part of its past. As Chicago told The Guardian a few years ago, she has now come to realise that “When I was young in the 70s, we cast the dialogue entirely around gender… That was a completely erroneous assumption,” that “Gender is part of a larger structure of oppression and injustice.” And through her acknowledgement of a much-needed shift in her conception of equality, she establishes herself as one of our greats; a woman who unashamedly celebrates a legacy of strength, and has the strength to shift her own perspective with the times.
Recent studies show overwhelming evidence that more than 75% of cave art was created by women.
The ongoing research, current findings, and the art itself are all excellent representations of the celebration of women!