While researching practitioners that dealt with the Body Politic I came across the work of Dorota Sadovska.
I found her ‘Corporalities’ series particularly fascinating. Her choice to de-sexualise the female form and take back control is a strong feminist ideal. But here she has used gentle humour to demystify the eroticity of the breasts; instead showing them for the mere skin and malleable flesh that they truly are. By pushing and pulling and kneading her breasts for the camera she references the bread of life and the traditional role of the woman as feeder of the family. The male may provide money but it is always the mother who transforms this into food. We also have reference here to clay and by extension the Jewish folklore of the Golem; an anthropomorphic being created by clay and given life by magic. So within this performance she is re-moulding herself in her own image in order to regain control of her body. The mention of her work being a reminder for women to check the health of their breasts, while obviously important, I feel is a minor message within the performance as a whole (O’Reilly, p.25).
It is tempting to see the link between Sadovska and the work of Jenny Saville who’s Closed Contact project saw her team up with Fashion Photographer Glen Luchford and create some rather disturbing self-portraits which also question and comment on the traditional view of the nude female within art, photography and fashion. Saville also moulded her form in strange contortions to produce these eerie and slightly disturbing landscapes of flesh. While Saville mentions her work was created in response to seeing re-constructive and cosmetic surgical procedures; it is all too easy to see them as a reference to how the female form is used as mere flesh and moulded to fit the requisites of the male viewer.
With these artists taking back control of their bodies and turning the sexuality of their form into mere skin I wondered if something similar could be done with the manhood of the male in order to de-mistify, de-sexualise and combat the phalophobia that exists whenever the naked male is glimpsed. This is generally nothing new as we only need look at the two Australians who set-up the comedy performance show Puppetry of the Penis. The sell-out tours they have been on for the past twenty years is proof that the penis is not nearly as shocking as some would believe. But while these shows are titillatingly shocking I wondered if something a little more serious could be produced in order to question the fear surrounding the male genitals and why it seems as we hurtle into the depths of the 21stC the naked male still is not an acceptable sight. So with a little care as to how I approached this as well as how I approached the subject with potential models I have made a tentative start in re-moulding the male member into something that questions its shock value. By choosing to edit in B&W I am removing the subjects by a degree from the ‘real’ and enabling them to be seen as a structure so that they can be regarded in a more factual light. Aesthetically I like how some of them have turned out. I am still undecided as to whether they work in the realm for which they were designed. Do they question the fears we have surrounding the penis or is the project unworthy from the outset? Yet if Milo Moire (Brooks, 2014) can drop paint-bombs from her vagina onto a canvas to create a painting surely I have as much right to question phalophobia?
Sadovska, D (2003) Corporalities in The Body in Contemporary Art ed Sally O’Reilly (Thames & Hudson, London, 2009) p.25
Brooks, K. (2014) Yes, A Woman Is ‘Giving Birth’ To A painting online Huffington Post available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/19/milo-moire_n_5174257.html Acessed [10th Aug. 2017]