GREAT ART WRITINGS #1: a response to an interview with natacha stolz
recently (altho like 1million internet yrs ago) some1 “anonymous” conducted an interview with natacha stolz (aka spaghettio vagina squirt girl) and posted it on the rhizomes.
in case u are like completely out of the loop, back in august a video of natacha stolz performing her piece “interior scroll” went viral. in the video natacha tries to open a can of spaghettios and then smears some dirt on her chest/boobs while speaking gibberish and then she cuts her pants crotch open and goes into her vagina and then spaghettios come out. then she got trolled really hard by 4chan/hipster runoff etc.
obvi, as a “feminist” who went thru “finding myself” in my college years as an art student, i am a fan of natascha’s efforts and see a bit of myself in her. i too went thru a period of silly shit like drawing a puppy on my nipple with lipstick and making it bark and like putting glasses on my vagina and having it read luce irigaray and this was all necessary to get to where i am now, which is being a microfamerresearcherfamousontheinternet performance artist. altho obvi my best work is still to come duh.
my point is a lot of people hate/have hated on natacha whereas i see her journey as an emerging feminist spirit commendable. growing up as a young lady today, we are taught that girls and boys are equal, that everyone has the same opportunities and you can do/be anything u want if u just try etc etc. but unfortunately that is still far from the truth! a part of coming of age for a woman (especially us feminist minded ones) is figuring out what does my body mean to me—to others?
these r topics i see natacha addressing. pretty courageous shit considering how ashamed women are made to feel (or simply reduced to objecthood) at any expression of sexuality or even simply assertions of being a feminist (feminist= whiny bitch who can’t get laid/are lesbians or we are just lazy and have no skills cept for complaining).
so anyways i was excited natascha got a chance to speak! yay…and not just in garbled talk like she did in her video, but in real words..and on rhizome!@!!
before the interview anonymous person discusses why they think natacha got trolled so hard.
”… it was the label on it—art—and the work’s perceived demographic—hipsters—that crawled under people’s skin.”
anonymous interviewer is right…it is the label on the work as art that got ppl all riled up. however—it is this fact only in conjunction with the sexual and unusual nature of the work, by a woman, and using feminist tropes that truly inspired the hatred/trolling.
“Why do you think the piece touched a nerve?
I think people are still uncomfortable with women’s bodies. It’s offensive to people to see woman touch her body the way I do in that piece.
I was thinking more about people’s idea of what art is supposed to be—
Well, of course there’s that too.”
anon believes natacha got trolled because she made “bad art” or at least art that ppl didn’t like. anon goes on to talk about how art is a matter of taste, and ppls taste vary and what the “art world” decides is good art can be full of political implications because WHO is deciding what is good/bad is super loaded.
what anon is maybe hinting at and what natacha is grasping..is WHY didnt ppl like natacha’s art? why not like spaghettios comin out of a vagina vs not liking a really terrible color field painting? why do we accept this crap as acceptable contemporary art….
(sean scully….yea im sorry but i just dont care. maybe u coulda been relevant like uhm 60 yrs ago?)
and not natacha’s??
ok ok i get it, there is a long history of painting as being art—but there is a history of women using their bodies in art too! albeit relatively recently…ie the works of art from which natacha named hers after (both 1975, semiotics of the kitchen and interior scroll, luv u carolee/martha)
AND the internet is savvy/knowledgable enough for this dialogue. just look at their acceptance/critique of marina abramovic’s the artist is present documentation on flickr. another huge performance art meme but one that was not met with so much hatred or disgust (altho def laughter..but it was kind of funny…but a lot of art is funny, especially when it is trying to be all serious) even tho marina was using a contemporary medium (live performance), like natacha.
the truth is—despite the advances made by the feminist artists of the 70s and even the more or less mainstream knowledge of their work, viewers (men and women) don’t want to take seriously and would like to dismiss a woman using her body in a provocative or weird/gross way as being just well…silly and immature. it’s like we’re supposed to “wise up” and be better smarter women artists by either 1) pretending sexuality, specifically our sexuality, doesnt exist at all (that we’re like better than our sexuality) and we’re all neutered motherfuckers or 2)exploit our sexuality in a way that other ppl get pleasure from (like taking sexy pics/sexy paintings of ourselves nakey…and if you’re an old/fat/ugly lady…well you dont really have that option and it is going to be 10times as hard for you to “make it”).
are these old arguments? yes duh but like…these biases still exist despite advances and despite thoughts that like the playing field is even now or whatever.
perhaps the quest in finding our own unique womanhood is a step in maturity but when one takes an alternate path (like natacha or myself) we shouldn’t be met with hateful criticism. those are the mindsets that need to change and that natacha is working to fix—which is why i am a fan!
when i was in my junior year as an undergraduate sculpture major (i kno rite..hard to believe i made shit at one point) after making one of my first series of short feminist inspired videos (because this was around the time i was discovering that work) in which i used my body sometimes in bizarre and perverse ways i was met with the criticism from some of my peers that i was just a stupid feminazi making silly girl work.
to me, this said more about that dude’s feelings about women than my own work, but this is why i have continued making work as a silly feminazi. because women have a hard enuf time out there trying to fit in to what we think we’re supposed to be like that if i get out there—do my crazy ass shit and come out ok—hopefully more women will be inspired to do the same. and that is exactly what natacha is doing. and we shouldnt condemn her, patronize her or taunt her but rather see her work for what it is and be able to gain something from it—despite our ingrained notions of what good/bad art/woman is.
we have this idea that art is supposed to show us like subtle beauty in the world or some shit (for example, lots of ppl were posting this feel good line on their FB walls recently via jonas mekas “Art is here so that everything could become more beautiful and more subtle.”) and that art is supposed to be produced by someone with great skill and be super ambitious, or expensive, or big or something. and that is all fine when it happens like that but it shouldn’t have to. art can and should be messy, haphazard and a bit lost at times because that is how we will get to new/interesting ideas. it is not a matter of GOOD or BAD art but being able to gain something from what it IS.
im not defending/attacking natacha’s work. i am simply questioning the response to it and asking people to seriously think about why her works offends them so much (beyond the fact that it was “bad” or “its been done before” because thats not really getting at anything). my guess is they will discover they have serious notions/beliefs about how they think a woman (specifically a woman artist) is supposed to act.
as natacha says “everything is shit”