BADASS WOMEN MAKING HISTORY
Celebrating International Women's Day
by KOD Staff
This Sunday is not just any ordinary weekend; it marks the 104th anniversary of International Women’s Day. A worldwide celebration of woman’s achievements since its conception in 1911, it’s a day that celebrates the feminine; in all her untamed glory. To celebrate the occasion we have rounded up the badass women who have fought the patriarchy and won. Demanding that their voices be heard, they have not let sexism get in the way of making history. From emerging talent like Petra Collins to the Art-world icons, these are the women who are paving the way for artists today:
Lynda Bengalis is remembered as the artist who placed an advertisement in Artforum of herself; naked apart from a pair of cat-eye sunglasses and posed with an over-sized dildo. The work sparked a debate about pornography in art and Cindy Sherman recalled the work as a pivotal moment in her career. Yet it wasn’t all about porn, her work primarily explored feminine expression. Bengalis’s short film ‘Female Sensibility’ 1973, showed the artist kissing her friend Marilyn Lenkowskv, it was intended as a statement that women love women, and should do more to support each other.
Around in the days of street protests and bell-bottoms, Penelope Slinger spearheaded the 1970’s underground feminist art scene. First exhibiting in London in 1977, her work outraged her fellow art students and critics to such an extent, that she left the country. The next exhibition of her work would be at the Riflemaker Gallery, nearly 40 years later. Her surreal collages were explicit depictions of feminine power, which played on the politics of eroticism. By exploring the depths of the feminine psyche, she liberated female desire using symbols equated with femininity; the voluptuous mouth and rounded breast. Later inspiring artists such as Linder Sterling, she was an original anarchist; fighting for “female liberation and empowerment, claiming of one’s own sexual being and one’s sense of self and self-image”.
The Guerrilla Girls fight discrimination with facts and humor; they are the anonymous all-female ‘terrorists’ that fight sexism & racism in the art world. In 1984 MOMA put on a show entitled the ‘International show of recent painting and sculpture”, the exhibition had 165 artists, only 17 of which were female. The guerrilla girl gang quickly formed and protested all over New York City. Known for making a racket, they deface city walls and create tongue-in-cheek textbooks that attack the art industry’s prejudices. Symbolically assuming the names of dead female artists, members such as ‘Frida Kahlo’ and ‘Lee Krasner’ wear gorilla masks to hide their identities while they bash the patriarchy. Vigilante-style.
Street art is traditionally a man’s world, but Shuby didn’t let that intimidate her. Her paste-ups and spray painted shutters were inspired by a fruity Jospehine Baker and the Busby Berkeley film ‘The Gang’s all Here”. Her work is a comical take on kitsch; masked bunnies and peeled bananas conspire together in absurdity to create humorous images that leap across walls. Outside of her street-art, she can be found spraying racing cars and re-decorating shop fronts.
After Instagram deleted an image of her untrimmed bush peeking out from a pair of frilly pants, Petra hit back at her unlawful censorship with an article in the Huffington Post, instantly giving the 22-year-old photographer, feminist icon status. Part of the all-female artist collective ‘The Ardorous’, Petra is an avid campaigner of #freethenipple and doesn’t like being told what to do. Busy creating a new standard for women, she has an alternative vision of what is beautiful, young and female. In the words of Petra “do not let anyone tell you what you should look like, tell you how to be, tell you that you do not own your body." Amen
Collagism is the new girl on the block; specialising in analogue and digital collage she works in 2D, 3D and the radical sounding FutureD. Not to be confused with an art movement, Collagism began in 2012 when she needed a pseudonym for her street art campaign to free Pussy Riot. Ripping up the September Issue of Vogue she created posters, which she distributed around London in confrontational positions. Part of the two-man band ‘Mink Engine’, she is currently working with female artist collective Hysteria, and is on a quest to collage the entire universe.
Thrown from a window of the 34th floor apartment she shared with minimalist sculptor Carl Andre; Anna Mendita became a martyr of women around the world. Part of the A.I.R collective, the young Cuban artist had a fiery spirit and was at the top of her game when she died. Describing her work as ‘earth art’; she bound the elements and the ritualistic aspects of blood, to create evocative sculptures and performances. Either pushed up against glass or buried in the ground, her work was potent because she was a woman. Traces of her influence can still be found today.
Some say she broke up the Beatles, others say she makes powerfully provocative performance art. Either way, Yoko was a forerunner of the 1960’s fluxus movement in New York. Her seminal work “Cut-Piece” was first performed in 1964, she sat passively and invited audiences to cut away her clothing with scissors. In 2003 she re-enacted the piece in protest of US troops invading Iraq and in demonstration against the atrocities of September 11th 2001. Despite the hatred directed at her and the sexist backlash she endured, Yoko always radiated positivity, turning negativity into optimism.