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Isn’t it to define beauty by gender to truly repress it? What is this “norm” people are so happy about? If we were all happy with the “norm”, cosmetic companies would not be so profitable. Is this norm not merely socio-acceptable “performances” on a stage, its accompanying libretto the romantic paternalism of Judeo Christian capitalism, and misogeny? Reducing society to limiting states of either/or has been the past, but how are we as conscious image makers shaping a progressive future?
I read an article on the UK Telegraph about new modeling trends. Is Andrej Pejic androgynous? Perhaps; in certain clothes, in specific lighting, emotions, etc. But overall, I’d say the Pejic beauty is effeminate.
Effeminate men have always been far more socially acceptable than masculine women. Kisha Batista, for example. So is it really about the negotiated fragilities of androgyny or a cultural discomfort with female strength?
Fortunately, I was able to attend a recent ICP Panel dedicated to the recent controversy over David Wojnarowicz’s Fire In My Belly. Although I found the discussion illuminating—I learned so much about the back story surrounding this media event—I did walk away feeling a most uneasy of sorrows. Perhaps it was seeing footage of the Mexican Day of the Dead. It’s part of the video, but seeing that with a full room of people who most likely know at least one person who is HIV positive or has passed away from AIDS…seeing that footage in public, with others around was a totally different experience than seeing it on my computer, outraged at this whole thing. I realized that although censorship has robbed a museum audience of that public but touching ability to connect on this piece, its experience has been made all the more intense. That is one good thing to come out of all this: more people are seeing it, thinking, debating, learning. And hopefully, progressing.
Anyway, I wrote a little something about it, David Wojnarowicz: Convenient Misinterpretations.
Read my interview with the co-curators of Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, which is currently on view at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.