Tag Archives: gender politics

Sexy Girls, Girls, Girls

Yes, lots of young, beautiful, sexy girls with big round tits all over Melbourne.

Sofles & Deb in Hosier Lane. Photo by Kevin Anslow

Sofles & Deb in Hosier Lane. Photo by Kevin Anslow

Photo by Kevin Anslow.

Photo by Kevin Anslow.

Photo by Kevin Anslow.

Photo by Kevin Anslow.

Kevin Anslow, who created the Melbourne Street Art 86 site, sent me these photographs of the paste up dialogue attached to Sofles and Deb’s new piece on Hosier Lane. (Thankyou Kevin.)

“Hey babe does it worry you that exaggerated, big titted girls like us are saturating street art iconography these days?” the speech balloon puts these words in the mouth of Sofles girl.

And Deb’s girl replies “No silly. From Rone to Adnate to Herakut, empty portraits of young girls with big eyes are the best way to make it commercially. Think anime or porn culture or fashion photography; this is about rehashing the most palatable mainstream motif. It’s not about finding beauty in new ways, it’s about reconstructing beauty in the most standard and insipid way. So girlfriend, stop trying to use your brain and just look pretty. Tee-hee.”

The speech balloon dialogue caps Sofles and Deb in the best possible way because it improves the work and opens up an interaction that wouldn’t be allowed in art galleries. The paste-ups are a wonderful piece of Situationalist provocation detouring and subverting the cartoon images. The dialogue is not puritanical; I enjoy porn and fashion photography but I wouldn’t want to look at them all day (I hate anime but this involves a reaction caused by an over-exposure to anime). Like me the dialogue is worried about “saturating” with over-exposure and not about the images themselves. It is calling for more progressive street art and attacking the conservatism of commercial art (the old school tattoo, comic book and fantasy art the influences street art). It is also a challenge to think about the issues of gender and commercial art.

Looking for the vocabulary to write about street art illustration work like Rone, Sofles and Deb, I turned to Japanese art and find bijinga (beautiful-girl picture). I was happy to find the word for there is little else to these bijinga pictures except for a beautiful girl. They are just, in the words of the speech balloon, “rehashing the most palatable mainstream motif” with different themes and in different styles. As art these bijinga pictures are simply eye candy and the artists who create them will enjoy ephemeral fame.

But what are the consequences of this abundance of images of wide-eyed buxom girls? Will people become bored with them and cause an opposite reaction in images?  Will girls follow their example?

P.S. Later the speech balloons were revealed to be the work of Melbourne street artist CDH, see his webpage for more about it.


10 Things about Yarn Bombing

+ The public loves yarn bombing.

+ Community festivals love yarn bombing.

+ Craft stores love yarn bombing and support it – Spotlight was promoting yarn bombing groups via Facebook in December 2011.

+ The media love yarn bombing. (Are you starting to worry now?) After years of hating the male dominated graffiti the media view of yarn bombing is completely different. Is it just a gender issue?

+ Yarn bombing reaches the parts that other street art can’t touch. An aerosol artist wants a big wall, a stencil artist or wheat-paster wants a bit of wall but yarn bombers aren’t competing for wall space.

+ Yarn bombing can be seen as a sculptural textile work, using readymade and already installed poles in the street as the support for fabric sculptures, like a street version of the knitted sculptures of Dorathea Tanning or Eva Hesse Hang Up, 1966. Or it can be seen as craft.

+ Anarchic women knitting anywhere they like – it is the end of the civilization as we know it?!? (This instantly brings to mind scenes from the French Revolution of women knitting at the guillotine.) Now that women my age are yarn bombing civilization as we know it is coming to an end.

+ What is connection between yarn bombing and bicycles? Bicycle racks are yarn bombers favourite targets. If you don’t believe me see the post by Art Hunter of SA and Vetti Lives in Northcote’s Yarn Bomb Bicycle. Or is it like Twilight Taggers wrote on Facebook: “Just another thing to cover.”

+ Land of Sunshine, Yarn Bombing Brunswick and Part Two.

+ There is no commercial potential in yarn bombing. When it is off the street it is just more craft knitting.


Rock Chicks @ The Arts Centre

Not a performance but an exhibition that spans a century of Australian female music performers. Although it spans a century, the first fifty years are over in an introduction and the story really starts in the 1960s with rock’n’roll.

The exhibition can be read as a history of Australian popular music with a focus on female performers. It is an exhibition of ephemeral fashion captured in countless band photographs and album sleaves; the length of hair or dresses along with the music style. There are mannequins displaying rock chic fashion; from the crocheted red dress that screams 1971 of Margaret RoadKnight to the Gallery Serpentine designed red tartan bodice and black tutu worn by Nitrocris’s Moragana Ancone.

It could also be read as documentation of sexual politics in Australian popular music. There is the politics of band structures from chanteuse, to girl bands, to rock chicks playing in mixed gender bands. What were the acceptable instruments for a woman to play – from Judith Durham’s tambourine to the grungy guitars of contemporary rock chicks? There is the representation of sexual politics in popular music and the politics of the gender image for a woman/girl performer. It is an exhibition that exposes the complexities of these gender issues rather than simplifying them. Chrissy Amphlett’s schoolgirl tunic and stockings are confusing enough without the promotional panties from Rebecca’s Empire.

I found myself interested in the fertility of rock’n’roll as a platform that allows the performers to contribute creatively to more than just the music and lyrics, for example the collaborative collages that Beaches make preparing for album covers. And that rock allows some performers to spring board into other creative work, e.g. Sara Graye from Nitocris now has a fashion label, 50ft Queenie. Obviously amateur creative work is also displayed like, Girl Monster’s decorated make up case and painted bass drum face. Or, Deborah Conway’s needlework which is good enough to make a stage costume; up close it looks a bit lumpy.

Some of the Rock Chicks posters

There is a lot to see in this exhibition however you want to read it. It is so packed with rock chick memorabilia that it continues with an exhibition of rock posters around the side of the Arts Centre.

There were just guys in the bands that I was in but my friend, Jamie Saxe, formerly of the Ergot Derivative, says that women make better drummers than men. So lets hear it for the rock chicks.


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