Is a Nude Painting of a Woman Still Erotic If She Looks Back?
Miriam Cahn on what female artists do
I'm sharing this video I watched today about the Swiss artist Miriam Cahn. It's about 10 minutes long but totally worth the watch. She's not an artist I knew of before, and I'm delighted to have found her.
She's a feminist artist, she's fiercely political, and she tackles taboo subjects head-on. The role of the artist for her is to express things that people are afraid to say, or won't say, and to expose the lies that circulate in democracies.
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Her work isn't easy to look at and it's not beautiful (for me anyway). But it communicates something real.
She talks about how it is incumbent on female artists to create a new tradition that represents women differently from how they have been shown in art from the past. Those representations were largely produced by men. Women need to be shown as they really are, not how men would like them to be. That's a task for female artists, and she's fully signed up to it.
One question Cahn asks is whether a nude representation of a woman is still erotic if she is actively looking back at and confronting the viewer i.e. being active rather than passive in the consumption of her body and sexuality. I wondered what you think about that question, or any of the other ideas that Cahn talks about. Let me know what you think about her art!
She's great, Miriam. I don't like her art very much, but the questions she raises are really important. Her paintings definitely aren't erotic. I don't know what to think about the question. Need to give it some more thought.