May 05, 2015

the back story

Eve - An Inquiring Mind
This is for those of you who like to know the back story of an artwork.
"Eve and her Apple Encyclopaedia"
Also known as 'Apple Woman'
Made because I was just incredulous at the sheer pomposity of the story the men who wrote the bible tried to sell us - that women were responsible for sin in the world. How very convenient for the male of the species. What would make you do that? A wish to dominate without guilt and highly developed paternalisitic power complex perhaps?

And actually when you examine the story, what was Eve really doing ? Seeking knowledge and pleasure - two rather good aims, wouldn't you think?

So, this Eve has not just the one solitary apple, but an entire lap full of them - a veritable apple encyclopedia, a riot of apples.

"and with one bound, the compact Narcissus was free"
( there should be another image here but I can't make it work, however, you can see it on the 'Little Mythologies' page )

This is how it happened.
Once upon a time I was in a women's group, as all good feminists were. We concluded that one of the results of patriarchy was women's need to appear pleasing to men, due to the historic economic necessity of financial dependence on men - that is to say, they wouldn't let women work, or if they did, paid them less than men ( ring any bells ? )

I read John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" in which he noted that so deep was the ingrained need in women to appear pleasing that even at her father's graveside a woman remains conscious of what she looks like. Shocking, isn't it?

Remember all those old movies where the women were forever checking their appearance in their compact mirrors; the compact, their constant companion. How many selfies do we take now and is there really much difference? The compact opens up to reveal the image, just like the camera on our phones.

Only recently I heard Germaine Greer say that she had a friend who appeared on her daughter's wedding video, anxiously checking her chin for stray hairs. So even in maturity it seems that women remain the object, the 'viewed' rather than the 'viewer', despite the great improvements in education and equality. Maybe these days men also experience themselves more as being viewed as well as being the viewer, now that the great advertising machine has woken up to the potential market in male grooming and the male physique too.

And yet being labeled 'narcissistic' is not a compliment. It's not something to aspire to. All this makes me wonder what it might be like to be free of the internalised "being viewed" dynamic, like animals, who are naturally  unselfconscious. I thought of leaping, bounding hares and the title came into my mind "and with one bound...." It harks back to those classic adventure stories when the hero or heroin would, against all the odds, break free of imprisonment and defeat the dastardly foe. So this beautiful hare escapes the hold of the compact, the narcissistic binding, and is free to be itself.

All these thoughts came together; imagining breaking free of self-consciousness, of the tyranny of forever being viewed, the image of a wild creature in the act of escaping from the narcissistic hold of the mirror-image...
"and with one bound...." was born.