A SYTYCB Entry
Despite the fact that the street art community is notoriously male-dominated, this week lady painters throughout the world are making the case that the streets are perhaps the best forum for feminist art.
For instance, the awesome Argentinean artist Hyuro has taken to the streets of Atlanta as part of the Living Walls project, which commissions artists to paint vibrant murals throughout the city. This year, the Living Walls project decided to invite only women to paint murals, providing a very welcome breath of fresh air from the macho culture that pervades street art – or at least mainstream street art.
For her mural, Hyuro painted a series of images depicting a nude woman on a wall surrounding the old General Motors building in Atlanta, which has one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates.
The mural has been criticized as pornographic and “going too far” in its depiction of full frontal female nudity. But the striking nudity and narrative told through the series of images has a more important effect.
Last week, Sady Doyle described what she calls a new type of feminist power, wielded through the use of vulnerability and the female confession. In speaking on the powerful nature of vulnerability and confession, Doyle says:
It’s tempting to view this as apolitical. It doesn’t hit any NOW or NARAL talking points. The narrators don’t typically spend their weekends raising funds for Planned Parenthood. They spend approximately zero time listing reasons not to vote for Romney.
[Instead] Women are describing psychic pain—and psychiatric diagnoses—without bothering to wonder whether they sound weak or hysterical. Women are describing sex, and not just physical positions: They are charting every emotional and social contortion required of them as women. This is daring and necessary because (like consciousness-raising or Riot Grrrl before it) it shamelessly reclaims ‘acting like a girl.’
Hyuro’s mural fits squarely into the type of feminist speech described by Doyle. The solemn looking woman in Hyuro’s mural, who appears first naked, then covered by a furry outer layer, then naked again as she takes it off, tells a story, a confession of a part of her that needed shedding. The woman is vulnerable as she stands stark naked after discarding her fur.
And Hyuro’s painting itself is a kind of confession. Her depiction of a naked woman shedding her outer layer in the middle of a city is a personal statement made public, a confession through art.
In this way, Hyuro’s mural demonstrates that street art is a powerful and fitting arena in which women can make the personal public, and through vulnerability and confession reclaim their feminine identity. The nature of public art seems particularly fitting for feminist art and political expression, as it continues a long tradition of making the personal public and political.