Monday, April 20, 2015

Living the Reality

“If you’re dancing in a disco all night your feet get dirty,
 even if you have the most expensive shoes on.”

Marilyn Minter

When American artist Marilyn Minter was a student at Syracuse University she took a series of photographs of her mother into class. Visiting lecturer Diane Arbus was impressed, her fellow students horrified. The photographs depicted her pill-addicted mother wearing a wig, dressed in a negligee applying makeup, smoking and lounging in bed.

As Artforum’s Bruce Hainley is reported to have written 27 years later the esthetic of wig governs everything, suggesting that beauty, like existence, is artificial, askew, and concealing.”  But at the time, for the 21 year old wannabe artist such future pronouncements were unthinkable, she had grown up drawing glamour girls in the margins of her textbooks. And as she told Newsweek’s Isabel Wilkinson “All of a sudden I got the picture: this is not what other people’s mothers look like.”

It took Minter almost three decades of a drug addled life in New York to overcome this peer pressure and exhibit the photographs. And in so doing Minter expanded upon Hainley’s observations to explore the feminine role in contemporary society in general and the fashion and porn industries in particular with a focus on the internet and advertising.

As she told W MagazineI work with things that are considered debased and shallow, but the reality is that there'd be no Internet without porn and that fashion and beauty are multi-billion dollar industries…I was, and still am, a second wave feminist, and I believe that no one has politically correct fantasies…The fashion world tells me how much they love my work, but they don't hire me very often. Tom Ford did, and he hated it. Naturally, he wanted to Photoshop away the imperfections, which is perfectly understandable. They want their vision.”

Minter’s vision is the obscured reality of these industries; she concentrates on the imperfections that make us human, the freckles, the sweat, the under arm stubble that the glossy’s airbrush out. As the publicity for her latest exhibition states, “Minter progresses from a curious youth looking critically at the domestic landscape before her to the media-savvy cultural producer whose images simultaneously define and critique our times.

Or as she would put it, “If you really have something to say, sooner or later it will be heard. And if you're lucky you'll still be alive.”

Her latest exhibition : Pretty/Dirty is currently on show at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston until the 2nd of August.

No comments: