About a year ago I stopped buying a number of well-known womens’ fashion magazines. Magazines rot your brain anyway, but really I had become fed up with their coverage of art. To begin, I don’t think fashion magazines should even really bother fluffing around with the arts, or global politics for that matter, but for some reason they do. The magazines I have in mind are aimed at young (very young), creative women, and as such have an obligation to feature such types within their pages. This I can understand. What I cannot grasp, is why every young female artist they have ever profiled seems to make the same clichéd girly pap.
You know the sort – images of other girls –watercolour and line drawings with candy coloured accents – wide eyed, dressed to perfection, hair swirling about the face, accompanied by bunnies and kitties and little birds and cupcakes and cuteness with clouds and trees and rainbows and rainshowers. Is this really all that these women are capable of? Technically accomplished, sure, but are we to believe that hairstyles, clothes styles, the weather, forest critters and fairy stories are the extent of their inspiration as artists? Is this all that younger artists have to look up to?
I got so steamed that I wrote a letter to the editor of one of the magazines – I even gave her a list of young female artists who were making work that actually meant something, who actually had something to say – even if it wasn’t pretty and fluffy.
The launch of Curvy 09 in Sydney this week has put this phenomenon back under my radar. A whole book and exhibition dedicated to ‘100 of the best female artists from around the world’. Read: ‘one pretty picture each from 100 women who are pursuing careers in design and advertising and entered our competition to be in this book that helps us sell more magazines’. It’s initiatives like this that are selling women artists short, perpetuating stereotypes and portraying them as being concerned only with trends and the pursuit of beauty. Save me.