08 October 2007

Virginia Woolf once wrote:

”Perhaps a mind that is purely masculine cannot create, any more than a
mind that is purely feminine… It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and
simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly.”

Although I find Woolf´s reflection on creativity and its conditions
interesting and even thought-provoking, I don´t agree with it. I simply
don´t understand what it means to be purely masculine or purely
feminine. More than anything else, Woolf´s statement just seems out of
date, locked in time, reflecting opinions of an era long gone (1920:s).
Still, when looking at art, I often think of it in terms of being
feminine or masculine. But every time I try to put my finger on what it
is that makes a piece of art feminine or masculine, it slips away.

Ideas of typical feminine and masculine expressions, are tricky subject
areas in our times. Yes, we often speak of such things as “gender”,
“feminism” and “male chauvinism”. But thoughts of a persistent gender
based way of being (a true male and female spirit), maybe just isn´t
possible in a time when identities such as "man" and "woman" sometimes
are seen as merely “social constructions”.

When Sally Mann visited Stockholm in February 2007, she asked if we, the
audience, believed that there was something like a female, and male way
of expression. Of course no one dared to formulate a view. I wanted to
shout, “Yes there are! And you are one of the finest artist of our time,
and your works are great examples of the female spirit!”. But luckily I
did not. How stupid to say such a thing, and then not be able to explain
my thoughts in any way?

signed Jan Buse

1 comment:

Videbaek said...

An interesting topic of discussion. I remember being in drawing class way back in the day, looking at the drawings of my fellow students, most of whom were women. We had critique sessions, in one of which I made a comment something like the following about a very good drawing made by one of the women: "It has a certain quality that it shares with some of the drawings on display made by other female students, but here this quality is really very good indeed!" (I was young, ignorant, stupid.) The instructor looked at me, a thin smile playing upon his face. The other students looked at me, blankly. Dead silence. What in heck did I mean? To this day I don't know. But I saw it then, and I often see it now. But sometimes I see it in the work of a male artist (Toulouse-Lautrec perhaps, but never Picasso). Is it a feminine quality or a male quality? Er...no, I wouldn't put it like that.