Making the F-Word Fashion

birgitte moos chalcraft

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Collaborative art project: Making the F. word fashion                                   

Participants are Sabina Mlejnek (Austria), Vibeke Knudsen (Denmark), Suzanne Russell (USA) and Birgitte Moos Chalcraft (Denmark).

ART STATEMENT and concept by Birgitte Moos, 2007

We are four female painters with diverse national, cultural, and educational backgrounds, working on a collaborative art project. Our project is an experiment in a collaboration aimed at producing a series of large paintings, each painting planned to be 2X4 meters / 13,1X6,6 ft, on the subject of notions of female beauty and cultural identity. We investigate our individual interpretations of the female body as seen over time, as we collaborate to produce mutual paintings. While collaborating on the same paintings, we have agreed upon that painting over each other’s work, and adding to each other’s work is allowed. In this process, the only rule is, that we may not stop each other via verbal responses to each other’s painting contributions during the work period. 

The project is about the group’s working methods and dynamics. For this reason, the dynamics of the group are documented each day through a variety of media, including video recordings and filling in individual questionnaires. We create a website for the project, with blogs and photographs, documenting the group interaction and dynamics, and the paintings’ developmental stages. 

A flirtation with culturally defined ideas like ego and the self is implicit in our proposed working method and subject matter. These ideas will be investigated and, hopefully, illuminated by the content of the paintings themselves, where the working process will be reflected in the painterly expressions. Will we, individually be grabbing the spotlight, or let go of our egos? Can we produce paintings, that contain references to a wide range of styles, because we each have different talents, tools, and references? Will the paintings function as symbols, and aesthetically as paintings, when the content is made up of a sort of cultural hacking, combined with four quite different female artists' ideas?

Part of our project is to exhibit our collaborative paintings in each of the countries where we originate from.

We expect the essence of our collaborative paintings to be a culmination of our observations about female beauty, especially as it is portrayed in the mass media throughout the world. The glamour system. Through media images, we become aware of our obsessive attention to appearances.

Ideals of female beauty have been articulated in early Egypt, in Dante’s Italy, in art and theater, in film and television, and in advertisements. Especially in the West, women are given the leading role of `Figure Magnifique,´ a mythical role that tries to convince the viewer, that these women are realistic and represent the ultimate female beauty, with the perfect body. Our body becomes our identity. Our identity becomes a projection of our body as a social construction, in which the conventional meaning of the word ´object` describes the female body, and it's status in terms of time and place.

As a possible consequence of society’s rejection of natural look as beautiful, our paintings will also comment on the scientific methods that are available to achieve beauty at any cost. Female beauty is an indicator of success and a status symbol. Strategies for seduction are defined in the media and the myths they create. Hence, the relationship between the sexes is affected.

Many international female artists work with hybrid artistic expression in which they combine, for example, photography, video, installation, and performance art. This can be interpreted as a rejection of painting as a traditionally patriarchal medium, with the masterpiece as its result.

Although painting is not related to gender in Denmark in the 21st century, and in our project, we use painting as a genderless medium. As part of our contemporary investigation we, as female artists with different nationalities, show the world how we can make use of one the oldest visual art medium, inserting motifs of female beauty, traditionally used by male artists worshipping beauty.