Monday, May 29, 2006

Would You Buy This?


A friend alerted me to the work of Sarah Jane Sikora, a British artist whose paintings and sculptures focus on large women. As my amateur photography may obscure, the piece above is entitled, "Biscuit Baiting." Below, a woman pays a visit to her refridgerator late night, and a gentleman from inside, ostensibly her husband, wards her away with a sign that reads, "Go back to bed, Muriel!"



On the web site for Regent Galleries, the gallery that shows Ms. Sikora's work, the artist writes: "Sometimes I am responding to social issues. For example much of my work has focused on turning around the negative relationship, that women, in particular have with their bodies thanks to the media presenting perfect airbrushed models for us to live up to."

Thus, similar to the way African-Americans may try to reclaim the "N-word," Ms. Sikora's work aims to reclaim the concept of fat and to challenge negative internalizations of body image. Unfortunately, I see her work (or at least, some of it) as shaming, critical, and sad. What may have originated as good intention has translated into culturally sanctioned fatttism, not to mention, a rather contentious gift.

You be the judge.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Stacey,
I must agree with you. When I looked at the second picture (looking in the fridge with husband and sign) I cracked up laughing. She reminds me of Jenny Sacramoni on the Sopranos. Her pictures look to me like a satire on "fat people". (However, that was a great idea about the sign). I think when I PMS I will put a sign in my fridge....
Also, if the "fat" women in the pictures looked more like Marilyn Monroe I think she would get her point across better; if that was her intention. The way everyone in Hollywood is sooooo skinny right now, Marilyn Monroe would be considered fat in this society.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doctor Stacey,
That was me, Allisonsky, who made the anonymous post by accident...

Haley-O said...

This reminds me of when I was in a Fine Arts Program at University. We had to draw sketches of nude models. I remember loving drawing the heavier women so much more than the skinny minnies. I loved their "imperfections," their curvaceousness. I was bored out of my mind drawing the skinnies.

I'm not sure how I feel about these drawings. They do seem to reinforce "fat" stereotypes, etc.. I'm eager to check out the collection....

Joyce said...

Ok, to me this is just comic relief! If we have to be subjected to magazine covers at every store, its fun to just blatantly make fun of the pressure to be stick thin. This puts a smile on my face because its politically incorrect- but I see it as a chance to laugh at ourselves. Lightens up a deadly heavy subject, and just pokes fun at the game of tricking our bodies into starvation mode.

Joyce said...

I also like how big and mighty the woman looks in the sculpture, and her little wee husband skulking in the fridge- like she told him to do that for her, but she could crush him with her index finger, if she wanted to!

ps22 said...

i see joyce's point about comic relief. I'm a person who tries, at times, to not take things too seriously. I understand she is British, and my totally unscientific opinion is that Europeans do not obsess about these issues as we do. And therefore, they are not plagued with the eating problems (anorexia and obesity) or even obsessions about food and weight like Americans. My guess is that there are at least 5 times as many blogs like this written by Americans than Europeans. But this is an American market, and I don't think most people here will appreciate nor understand the artist's point. I could appreciate this art more if it included male figures (who have body pressures of their own). Its not exactly like her ideas or work are particularly innovative, so I think there could be a more balanced and creative way of sending her message.

Teacher lady said...

I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that the woman in yellow, waiting to trap the Gingerbread Man contributes to a stereotype of overweight women as not as "nice," "kind," "loving," whatever they AREN'T that skinny women ARE. Don't like it, wouldn't buy it.

Kelly said...

I think there are a couple of ways of looking at the work. On one hand, it reinforces negative perceptions of fat women - unable to control ourselves in the presence of food, late night bingeing.

On the other hand, but kind of still in the first hand, I think the work touches something deep within many fat women by acknowledging the lack of control that we sometimes have with regard to food. Maybe by addressing the issues so starkly and directly in a humorous manner, it will help individuals see the humorous side of their actions and not feel a need to deny them or hide them. I can see a couple of overweight women chuckling over the works together because they see themselves in it. Perhaps it would start a dialogue, and allow these women to really look at their actions and address what lies beneath them.

Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but part of me likes the work.

And personally, I think the name Muriel is always funny. :)

flowerchild said...

Not funny. It makes me sad and makes me think of the shaming looks my husband gives me when I am eating something that he thinks I shouldn't. Or is it my imagination? Sometimes I just want to become so skinny that I won't even care how he looks at me, or anyone else for that matter.

Anonymous said...

I cam across this site whilst researching my next Sarah Jane Sikora purchase. My husband is very tall and skinny and um I'm not, lets just say. Your first reply said it all. 'I cracked up laughing'. I personally prefer the prints with the man and woman, because they simply make me smile.
I have the woman in the fridge print. I have never snacked in the night in my life. Yet it still amuses me.

The UK, unfortunately is plagued with the must be size zero syndrome. We also have one of the highest obesity rates in Europe.

My prints, dotted around my house, have brought a smile to many faces and are always positively commented on.

I think my next purchase will be a print called 'Toy boy'. It is of a voluptuous woman lifting her skirt to reveal the man tucked into her garter.

See if it makes you smile.