Joanna Hinksman Hoar, Coralee Lynn Rose, and Veronica Cross
Three of New York's emerging female artists are making fast friends
in the art world by being naughty. Yes, that's right: naughty. Bad
girl naughty. But instead of reversing hard won feminist gains,
they exemplify a new breed of post feminist, women who aren't afraid
to face off with art world big boys like Picasso and De Kooning,
long esteemed for their raunchy and misogynistic paintings. Transcending
the provision of a purely aesthetic experience, they elevate the
bad girls: the strippers, the S&M chicks and the romantically
enraged to high art, and in so doing they're actually empowering
women. Fetish and issues of power, money and class inform the combined
media work of Joanna Hinksman Hoar. The 32-year-old artist and California
native is her own subject in a duet of oversized images reminding
us of our power in sexual choice.
In Cane, 2001, 60" x 77," Hinksman Hoar leans against
a desk in what appears to be a very old library. Wearing a black
mask and a relaxed air of detachment, she holds the cane firmly
with both hands dressed in an expensive looking jacket and black
lace topped stockings. The mask is repeated in Sofa, 2001, 60"
The images hint at an S & M relationship within the context
of old moneyed affluence. With the mask concealing her identity
while symbolically "masking" her personality, motives
and character, we can merely guess about what's going on here. But
what is undeniably clear is the woman's voluntary participation.
Her relaxed demeanor suggests a woman who's set her boundaries with
the unknown "other" participant, and that she's involved
in this scenario as a matter of personal choice.
"What I think about a lot is the idea of escapism, sexual
escape, sexual fantasy and role playing," Hinksman Hoar explains.
"I think fetish permeates every person, is part of every person's
sexuality, even in their everyday lives. Someone can have a fetish
for leather furniture, for example, or arm pits or shoes, it's such
a personal thing. That's why it's used so often in advertising because
they want to reach the consumer on such a personal level."
Not a photographer herself, Hinksman Hoar relies on the empowering
relationship she's cultivated with another photographer in achieving
these results. She says that their personal interest in fetish and
S & M is key.
"While I'm having my picture taken, I'm in control of the
way I choose to relay the ideas and this creates a certain tension
between me and the photographer that translates into the final shots,"
she explains. "If the photographer isn't the submissive one,
there won't be this ongoing power dynamic and the pictures won't
come out the same."
Thirty year-old multimedia artist Coralee Lynn Rose works in collage,
photography, video, performance and installation art. She varies
media to best express her range of feelings about being female in
the 21st century. "All of my work is inspired by reactions
and interactions that I've had personally with other people,"
she says. "I feed off these personal experiences and the realness
is what inspires me,the realness combined with the interaction."
Consider 9:30 p.m., a performance piece inspired by CLR's self-proclaimed
obsession with a guy named Fabian. Recently, this man took it upon
himself to ask CLR for money to purchase a piece of recording equipment.
She was horrified, channeling the resulting relationship angst into
In a medium sized studio space on Manhattan's West Side, a 7 ft.
x 7 ft. piece of green astro turf lays on the ground. A clear Plexiglas
cube sits in the center and this is topped with a crystal bowl centerpiece
filled with a variety of paper cocks, 'penises,' cut out from porn
magazines, in every size, shape and color. Three un-inflated clear
plastic blow-up chairs sit adjacent the cube alongside a large Black
and Decker power tool which looks something like a large drill.
At promptly 9:30 p.m., artist Coralee Lynn Rose arrives wearing
an elegant black wrap dress and black stiletto heels. She hands
out disposable cameras to key audience members and then takes off
her dress to reveal a skimpy black patent leather bikini. From all
angles a mad dash of picture snapping ensues. Bikini clad, Rose,
with her very sleek body, long brown hair and creamy skin kneels
down on the floor and crawls towards the opposite corner. To elicit
audience participation, she looks back over her right shoulder making
eye contact with the audience and asks, "Does my ass look okay?"
With this there's a few giggles, but for the most part people are
still focused on the ensuing drama. Grabbing hold of the large tool,
now identifiable as an inflation device, Rose begins to inflate
one of the chairs. Wrestling with the tool, soon it becomes clear
that she's having some trouble and one man shouts 'Use your mouth!'
Partnering with another helpful male, together they manage to get
one chair fully inflated. Their success is met by a lively round
of applause. Smiling, Rose walks over, sits down and reclines in
the chair while more pictures are snapped. She gets up, puts her
dress back on, and says a final "Thank You" amidst a second
gala of claps, yelps and wolf whistles.
With its distinct interplay between innocence and sexuality, 9:30
p.m. is deeply personal. CLR uses this as a vocabulary with which
to understand and "remake" her own recent romantic history
and in so doing to reclaim feminine power. CLR says the crystal
bowl of cut out penises represent Fabian's castration: the clear
plastic blow-up chairs, prophylactic protection against his "pimping"
Thirty-one year old Veronica Cross working from an interest in
sex industry and sexual commerce. Her women are "bad girls."
They don't work on Wall Street. With an artistic agenda that's both
aesthetic and political, Cross disputes the argument that it's offensive
for a woman to make money by flaunting her sexuality.
"I want [my work] to be provocative and it's fine if people
think it's sexy, but if it serves as a bridge to another community,
that's great too," she explains. "I think that people
who need to seek out a life in the sex industry are looking to regain
power they've lost somewhere along the way." In Peep, 2001,
26" x 34" oil on canvas, this woman aims to please. With
her kittenish pout and double-D breasts begging for our attention,
there's really no doubt whose in control here.
But are the activities these artists showcase demeaning to women?
Or do they simply communicate a fresh spirit of female sexuality?
What's true is that women are not fragile, we're not going to "break"
if we feel it's okay to chase men, tell dirty jokes or read Cosmo.
And often, it's the same political correctness claiming to "protect"
us that's stripping us of our power. So while not everyone will
appreciate the in-your-face sexuality of these three artists, for
the new generation who's tired of the confinement, posturing and
compliance historically required of art world "good girls,"
it's good to see women reinvesting art with some nerve.
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