fighting the pedestal

“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself . . . And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman . . . Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves.”

Reflecting on the 1972 writings of art critic John Berger in relation to the depiction of femininity within mass media, it is disturbing to witness how the female body is still mainly portrayed through a male gaze. This distorted representation escalates into forms of violence; sadistic aspects from the male perspective, and masochistic from the female one.

Through the process of ‘Fighting the Pedestal’ the artist has made a foam replica of her entire body and restricted it by binding it on a pedestal; a place of admiration and elevation, but also of societal pressure. Is the female body bound by choice or by imposition? This work reflects on the vulnerability of the female body within public settings and questions the conditioning that leads women to inflict pain upon themselves in order to be beautiful, and thus loved.

Quote: Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin Books, 1972. p.47

Fighting the Pedestal, 2019, silicone, rope, flexible PU foam, 151 x 25 x 25 cm,  Beelden in Leiden, Leiden, NL photos: Tom Brown