GABRIELA MATEESCU

ANASTASIA MANOLE

LES FEMMES ROMANTIQUES - part one

Video installation

Produced as Anastasia Manole

Combinatul Fondului Plastic Bucharest

26 May - 30 June 2016

 

I started for some time now to be interested in the perception of femininity and how this affects both male and female representation of the self in the work environment. The first part of this research concluded with 5 digital performance videos focusing on the metaphoric associations of femininity with objects or ideas (flowers, water, gentile moves, putting on make up)

 

"I am trying to unlearn many lessons of gender I internalized while growing up. But I sometimes still feel vulnerable in the face of gender expectations. The first time I taught a writing class in graduate school, I was worried. Not about the teaching material, because I was well prepared and I was teaching what I enjoyed. Instead I was worried about what to wear. I wanted to be taken seriously. I knew that because I was female, I would automatically have to prove my worth. And I was worried that if I looked too feminine, I would not be taken seriously. I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt, but I decided not to. I wore a very serious, very manly, and very ugly suit.

The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn’t wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing—but a woman does. I wish I had not worn that ugly suit that day. Had I then the confidence I have now to be myself, my students would have benefited even more from my teaching. Because I would have been more comfortable and more fully and truly myself.  I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femininity. And I want to be respected in all my femaleness.  Because I deserve to be."

We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

The confrontation with sexism in the work environment and the way that I was perceived as a professional in my practice as a university assistant, manager, curator, artist have outlined this current research, starting from my choice of illustrating femininity from a feminist perspective, even though the concept of femininity has been now  used by postfeminist, neo-liberalist politics against women as a backlash against feminist priorities, promoting a culture of consumerism based on gender segregation.

 

In the contemporary social culture, growing up with Avon catalogs, telenovelas, sexist American films, consumerist commercials containing prescriptions to enhance femininity for male satisfaction, the concept of female, feminine has always been associated to me with certain sets of behaviors, attributes and roles that imply tenderness, passivity, care, gentleness, charm, compassion, etc.

 

Women are fragile and gentile like flowers - floral prints, objects promoting the aegis of romance in the shops in the streets; Pale colors and Baroque decorations visually overwhelm us from the Eastern European windows.

But in spite of this intrusive promotion of femininity as a characteristic to be mastered by every woman, it becomes superfluous in situations where women have to prove their qualified potential. In order to prove their professionalism, masculinity is always the standard. hen it comes to be taken seriously for my skills and my intelligence I always find myself in the position to have to prove by acting and dressing as manly, neutral as possible, trying to stall the attention from my body. Even though in the last years I became more acquainted with the way that these concepts are constructed, is still hard for me to release myself from this internalized gender bias that I was educated in to.

Girls wear pink, boys wear blue, this is the way we are raised. But girls should also wear blue when it comes to prove their equality.

 

Canceling female attributes in order not to distract the male look is proof of a "correct" and "educated" attitude. Requirements such as "decent and appropriate wardrobe" are imposed by taking the man as a norm, which is totally in contradiction with the social pressures that promotes femininity.

 

The woman is perceived to be more "verbal" or communicative, emotional, appreciating things for their aesthetic beauty, while masculinity is associated with men (competition, aggression, peace and reason, physical strength and a more scientific, technical orientation). However, the reality is that both sexes acquire masculine and feminine traits - which vary in different degrees at the individual level, throughout their lives.

 

The research focuses on various instances that proved to be problematic in my evolution as a woman who works in the field of art (it is important to emphasize these three instances because the project takes place in three stages, namely the femininity-work relationship , Femininity-couple relationship and femininity-art history). It will be accomplished in a series of video performances but not only, the final installation will contain archival information that I gathered during my investigation or objects and will be presented in a personal exhibition comprising the all materials .

 

The work consists of 2 large side boxes that have at least 5 TVs in them. In the middle an installation consisting of  2 metal strings, on which yarn of  pink and blue color was hanged writing Fragile Power hand knitted.

The 2 colors have a correspondence in the gender designated colors on which the Western society base its misconceptions on how women and man should be raised from the day they are born.

 

The work was built in an abandoned factory in Bucharest for an exhibition Anything goes / Nucleu 0005 in May 2016.