Tuesday 21st March
As opposed to the more text-based research I began with on Monday, today I moved into a more visual way of investigating my chosen theme(s). Mainly using Pinterest, I have looked at a wide range of topics within feminism that have been represented through visual artwork, photography or fashion pieces.
I felt that it made sense for the ‘base’ or starting point of the research to be looking into the history and ideologies of feminist movements, so the one piece of non-visual research I have looked at today is some information on the beginnings of the movement(s), and also how it has split off into many different branches of thought. It is commonly considered that the large number of these different branches/ideas about what feminism actually is has caused confusion and hostility towards the movement as a whole, and in response to this I created a simple piece of work on Photoshop that I think represents how the true definition is so often lost in arguments about the ‘agenda’ of feminists. This work will also be printed onto acetate and mounted in my research sketchbook.Friday 24th March
On Friday I visited one of the gallery exhibitons I had looked into at the start of the week. S(HE) is an exhibition at the Laing which explores the prescence of women in the Hatton collection. It’s theme is very closely linked to the one this project follows and so I visited the gallery to collect primary sources in the form of photographs and notes about pieces featured, and what I can take from S(HE) to inspire me and apply to later development work.
“S(HE) is an exhibition which voices, maps and investigates the presence of women in the Hatton Gallery collection. The combination of works is designed to spark discussion on the roles played by women in the wider art historical narrative. The show navigates throughout the art history from the 16th to the 21st century provoking questions concerning the current state of gender inequality in art.”
The exhibition was fairly small but gave a some visual inspiration as well as a lot of contextual information and background about the problems caused by a gender imbalance and less obvious female prescence, specifically to do with the art world. The paintings were set alongsite quotes and small pieces of text that talked about oppression and questioned the reasons behind the low proportion of work created by women in the Hatton collection but also the different creative industries as a whole.
“The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself” – Virginia Woolf
“Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.” – Sojourner Truth
Saturday 25th March
The first thing I did on Saturday was to scan the reading material that I took from the S(HE) exhibition (shown in this PDF) so that I could have some digital copies as well as the paper versions that I put into the research sketchbook. I then looked through all of my old fashion magazines to to find the ELLE ‘Feminism Issue’ from 2014, so that I could scan some pages from this. Some people were critical of the magazine when it came out, pointing out the ‘irony’ of using a fashion magazine to market the message of empowerment. However, I think this is a good example of how complex the arguments about feminism have become, which I have talked about in some evaluations this week. I also think that this can be linked to one of the key points I took from the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speech on Monday which was about not thinking that being a feminist and enjoying ‘feminine’ things such as fashion are mutually exclusive. This is something I want to tackle during the development of my brand in FMP. This point is even made in the magazine, as Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal and author of #Girlboss, states:
“What does a feminist look like? That’s the trick! Feminists look like you and me, like a woman in 6in stilettos or a woman in men’s clothing. Feminism is a way of thinking and being, not a way of dressing. You know a feminist by her gaze, not her neckline.”
Furthermore, an interview on page 223 with Diane Von Furstenberg puts it very simply;
LC: “Feminism. Good or bad word?”
DVF: “I love this word, it’s beautiful. It means strength but it doesnt mean you can’t be feminine.”
Sunday 26th March
On Sunday I started by looking through the book ‘Understanding Fashion’ by Mairi Mackenzie. I thought this might be especially useful because it looks at all of the Western fashion movements from the 1600’s onwards and most importantly the 20th Century, where these movements would have run alongside all of the developments that feminsim saw in the 1900’s and would have definietly ‘shaped’ by eachother. From the book I took that the most relevant movements to the theme of my project are Empire Revivalism, The New Look and the British Boutique Movement. Coincidentally (or not) the first and third of these were taking place around the same time as the ‘first’ and ‘second’ waves of feminism, in the 1910’s and then the 1960’s. After identifying some historical fashion movements that were likely influenced and shaped by feminist argument, I can now research in a bit more detail these key fashion eras that are more strongly linked to my FMP themes than other movements. I can then take inspiration from these and apply similar design features, etc, to my brand development which will keep it closely linked to the history and background of feminism, keeping everything consistent and ensuring that every area of the brand has a deeper meaning.