Musings On The Grotesque Female

Our upcoming event on February 25th is an exploration of Grotesque Interpretations Of The Female Form. We will be examining this theme through various artistic mediums including music, dance, poetry, burlesque, film, & more. As a collective of women-identifying artists, we feel called to take on the topic of women's bodies head-on. Given the current political climate regarding women's bodies (i.e. reproductive rights, sexual assault, etc.) and having a president who has explicitly spoken about women's bodies as objects, we feel it to be our duty as women artists to explore and respond to what is currently happening in our culture. 

Humans have been exploring the incarnations and limitations of the female form through art since art began. From the prehistoric Venus of Willendorf to the ancient Greek Venus de Milo to Beyonce's recent photoshoot invoking Botticelli's Birth Of Venus, culture has been fascinated with the beauty surrounding The Fertile Female figure. The archetype of The Fertile Female is in stark contrast to The Grotesque Female, but one can't exist without the other. For example, in Greek mythology, two of the most important figures are Aphrodite and Medusa. These are common Halloween costumes and continue to be household names. Though we don't worship these deities as the Greeks did, these archetypes continue to thrive in contemporary culture and art. 

It is clear why we love The Fertile Female, the maiden, the virgin who drips lust- she is supple, beautiful, life bearing, young, and virtuous. What is it that we love about The Grotesque Female? Why do we love the women with snakes for hair, the witch with the long crooked, dimpled and scarred face, the half-beast/half-woman siren? The Fertile Female is the etherial human, while The Grotesque Female is inevitably animalistic and earthly. We, as women, live somewhere in between.

As interesting and inspiring as these archetypes can be, they are harmful when women are projected to be one or the other, when we are not seen as complex beings. When society strips away women's rights, and specifically reproductive rights, I believe it is because there is a yearning for The Fertile Female, perfect in her pale, untouched breasts. In order to reconcile her, we damn The Grotesque Female, by taking away her biggest power: her control over her body - the choice to not bear life. The Grotesque Female cannot have reproductive rights, she will act on them. Meanwhile, The Virtuous Female wouldn't have a need for them in the first place.

It is clear that both of these archetypes are incredibly important to culture, or else they wouldn't persist and pervade as they do. At our event we are exploring The Grotesque Female, her relation to The Fertile Female, and her relationship to us- the modern women.

Reserve tickets to our upcoming event HERE.