The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, in Melbourne, made some interesting comments on gender.
Gaultier’s evolving style blends ideas of masculinity and femininity, but at the same time is still centred on mainstream ideas of heterosexual women: showing off curves on (mostly) slender bodies.
JPG has used gender non-conforming models throughout his career, including transgender women, and other body types and femininities seldom seen in high fashion, such as “plus sized” models. This is referenced as part of the exhibition, but it would have been more interesting to see this displayed via the mannequins.
The room dedicated to the artist’s punk roots was an absolute delight, and I spent way too much time in the futuristic-themed room displaying his film designs. I was ecstatic to see the designs from Peter Greenaway’s The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover.
The stories of the designer’s life were my favourite aspects of the exhibition, giving context for his lifelong interest for evoking traditional Western styles of femininity using corsets.
JPG is a fascinating figure that has commanded much academic attention, due to his contradictory reflection of art and commercialism and for speaking out on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) issues; and not without controversy.
High heel shoes were once a status symbol for powerful men, from horse riding soldiers in 16th Century Persia, to European aristocrats in the 17th Century. Since the Enlightenment period, heels became associated with “irrational” fashion and pornography, and so “impractical” shoes became a symbol of femininity. What changed? Today’s post examines how history and fashion trends related to high heels help us to see how gender is a performance that entrenches inequality. Continue reading What The Sociology of Shoes Says About Gender Inequality
French philosopher Jacques Derrida on the fear of writing (from the 2002 documentary Derrida):
…when I don’t write, there is a very strange moment before I go to sleep… all of a sudden I’m terrified by what I’m doing. I tell myself: ‘You’re crazy to write this!’ …what can I compare it to? Imagine a child who does something horrible. Freud talks of childhood dreams where one dreams of being naked and terrified because everyone sees that they’re naked. In any case, in this half sleep I have the impression that I’ve done something criminal, disgraceful, unavowable, that I shouldn’t have done. And somebody is telling me: ‘But you’re mad to have done that’. And this is something I truly believe in my half sleep. And the implied command in this is: ‘Stop everything! Take it back! Burn your papers! What you are doing is inadmissible!’ But once I wake up, it’s over. What this means or how I interpret this is that when I’m awake, conscious, working, in a certain way I am more unconscious than in my half sleep. When I’m in that half sleep there’s a kind of vigilance that tells me the truth. First of all, it tells me that what I’m doing is very serious. But when I’m awake and working this vigilance is actually asleep. It’s not the stronger of the two. And so I do what must be done.
In this clip, Derrida speaks with no-nonsense clarity, self-reflexive insight and honesty. He shows amazing courage to admit to his insecurities as a public intellectual. The doubt that Derrida voices applies to anyone who is honest about the difficulties of writing something original for a public audience: ’I do what must be done’.