Two Female Artists and the Misogyny of the Art World

1 / 2
2 / 2

In the film Guest of Cindy Sherman, the photographer’s former lover set out to tell the story of an art star, but, according to a critic writing in The American Prospect, winds up presenting a “creepy, cringe-inducing rehash of a relationship’s failure, told through intimate home-movie footage and the annotations of friends. Importantly–albeit inadvertently–it is also a film that illustrates the misogyny still pervasive in the art world today, a misogyny that Hasegawa-Overacker both records and exudes.”

Sherman’s work questions the role and representation of women in society, and Hasegawa-Overacker’s argument, as presented in The American Prospect, is that “the market swung once wildly in the direction of the macho, so the swing toward the feminine represented by Sherman’s enduring success must be some sort of overcorrection.”

Beyond the strange world of Hasegawa-Overacker’s film, that feminine swing is still evident in the art world. The up-and-coming, 24-year-old UK photographer and painter Sarah Maple is feeding an art world buzz. Maple grew up in southern England struggling with her Muslim/western identity and explores that identity in her art. Having been compared to Cindy Sherman, her provocative work explores sexuality, feminism, religion and culture, and she has been making headlines since her first solo exhibition “This Artist

Blows” in London in 2008, as featured in Red Pepper.

Some of her paintings were so controversial that a gallery showing them was vandalized and put under police surveillance. The painting which received the most heated debate within some Muslim communities depicts the artist in a headscarf cradling a baby piglet. In her piece I Love Orgasms, black fabric covers her entire face and body except a small slit for the eyes and a white pin exclaiming, you guessed it, “I love orgasms” on her chest. In an interview with Red Pepper about the themes of religion and sexuality in her art, Maple explains “a lot of my work is quite cathartic it gives me the opportunity to explore the sorts of things I wouldn’t explore in my actual life. I can use art as an outlet–especially with sexuality.”

As for the Sherman connection, she brushes it off: “Yeah, it’s funny, everyone says Cindy Sherman to me and I’ve never looked at her work. I know of her because everyone keeps saying Cindy Sherman, Cindy Sherman. So I’ve looked at her and now I quite like it. People think I’m trying to copy her, but I’m not. I’m not really even familiar with her work.”

Sources: The Amerian Prospect, Red Pepper

Top, Cindy Sherman Untitled #132. Image by hragvartanian licensed under Creative Commons.   

Bottom, Passport by Sarah Maple. Image by libbyrosof licensend under Creative Commons.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.