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ART, GENDER, AND FEMINISM: NEGLECTION AND MISREPRESENTATION OF WOMEN FROM TWO WORLDS There was one case

where a young girl was extremely bright and the allegation was that she had used witchcraft to take the intelligence of her classmates. So if you are a woman who is extremely bright, very astute at business, is able to amass wealth, a woman who is challenging and not docile, any of these can lead to allegations of witchcraft. Ajoa Kwarteng Kluvitse, The country director, Action aid (Ghana) This does not apply to boys! There has been a close analysis of gender, race and feminism since the beginning of time, to bring to bear the role of arts in addressing issues of great concern and this analysis includes the creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other visual media. Most of these works vividly address discrimination and other issues in history, culture, and society and that means they serve as a platform for confronting problems that continue to face us today. This among others is what inspired me to put this piece together .In reference, Chadwick states that “our language and expectations about art have tended to rank that produced by women as below that produced by men in “quality”, resulting in lesser monetary value. This has profoundly influenced our knowledge and understanding of the contributions made by women to painting and sculpture” (17). Although women have been influential in art as well as other areas, society consistently tries to limit how far women can go and all that forms the focus of this piece. The history of mankind is tainted by gender inequality, racism, and discrimination. Art however, brings to our attention the realities in life so to me, art is life. Art is a story. And art lives on. One of the most often depicted subjects in art is witches & witchcraft which hold a spell over history. Medieval art brings to attention the meaning of the word “witch” and how society relates it with women through art. During this time (5th-15th C.) the depiction of women as witches in art was mostly illustrative. While we do encounter certain depictions of "witch hunts", most of which appear around the end of the medieval ages with the rise of witch persecutions, we mostly see appearances in the storytelling realm, both biblical and mythological” and the attacks were mostly against women.

So how does art address witchcraft? To answer that question, I had to turn to history and I found this great artist: Hans Baldung Grien (1484 – 1545) Self portrait

He is considered the most gifted artist of Albrecht Dürer who was also a German painter, printmaker, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. Durer‟s prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since. So Baldung brings to this project rich and great works. Also a German artist, Baldung developed a distinctive style, full of color, expression and imagination. His talents are varied, and he produced a great and extensive variety of work from portraits, woodcuts, altarpieces, drawing, tapestries, allegories and mythologies. During the Late Middle Ages, with the rise the Renaissance (late 14th C), we also see an increasing interest in the occult. Perfect examples of this are the alleged creation of Tarot cards, and fascination with mythical creatures, such as dragons & unicorns. However, while the symbolism of fantastical beings was accepted in this Christian era, women were depicted to a greater extent as witches and continue to suffer from several forms of abuse by society in many parts of the world today. Witches were considered patently evil during the Renaissance and baroque periods, or until about 1630. They were thought to be empowered by Satan to act as his agents, and hence they were strikingly dangerous adversaries of humans. While men could be witches and sometimes were indeed put on trial for being witches, women increasingly outnumbered them in this capacity during this period. At the end of the greatest period of persecution of witches, women accounted for about eighty percent of those accused. There were a number of reasons for this, but the most important was the belief that women were sexually insatiable and that Satan seduced them to his cause.

Hans Baldung Grien (c. 1484 – 1545) The Witches Sabbath, woodcut, 1510 The piece above shows naked women as witches surrounded by the paraphernalia of their black art. To the shrieking incantation of an old woman, her young companion lifts the lid off a pot from which fumes and unspeakable ingredients sweep high into the night air. Another woman rides backwards through the sky on a goat. Many reasons have been proposed for the emergence of witchcraft as a phenomenon during the Renaissance and baroque periods. Among them are devastating crop failures, the bubonic plague, and syphilis. For three centuries of early modern European history, diverse societies were consumed by a panic over alleged witches in their midst. Witch-hunts, especially in Central Europe, resulted in the trial, torture, and execution of tens of thousands of victims, about threequarters of whom were women. Arguably, neither before nor since have adult European women been selectively targeted for such large scale atrocities. This horrendous act against women still continues today and as I moved on with this project, I turned to Ghana, a country in Africa in its northern region where women are banished from society because of the same reasons that were given in the medieval ages. In Gambaga, the witch craze is inseparable from the stigmatization

of women. Gambaga is a small town and is the capital of East Mamprusi district, a district in the Northern Region of Ghana in West Africa. The women there are regarded as witches and outcasts and they have to pay the local chief for their protection. “An Accused witch”, Northern Ghana

courtesy:http://www.workplacegiving.co.uk/news-and-press-archive/prisoners-ofprejudice-women-accused-of-witchcraft-condemned-to-ghana%E2%80%99s%E2%80%98witch-camps%E2%80%99/ “Witches Camp”

courtesy:actionaid.org

“An Accused witch”

courtesy:catholic.org/photos/photo.php During the medieval ages, many scholars argued that it was the women who seemed most independent from patriarchal norms -- especially elderly ones living outside the parameters of the patriarchal family -- who were most vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft. It is estimated on gendercide.org that "The limited data we have regarding the age of witches ... shows a solid majority of witches were older than 50, which in the early modern period was considered to be a much more advanced age than today." “witches camp”

courtesy: ghananation.org

Hans Baldung Grien (c. 1484 – 1545)

An elderly witch is depicted feeding her satanic "familiars" (woodcut, 1579). This suggests that the women who were depicted as witches would appear in numerous guises, often as an animal, but also at times as a human or humanoid figure. Hans Baldung Grien (c. 1484 – 1545)

Condemned female witches are burned at the stake (14C).

Women were generally targeted and were tortured and burnt at the stake as witches. The medieval witch-hunts have long been depicted as part of a "war against women" conducted exclusively by men as shown above, especially those in positions of central authority and that is reflective of a situation in the world today. Few people are aware that witch-hunts still claim thousands of lives every year, especially in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and in South Africa. In northern Ghana, particularly in the Gambaga area, elderly women are depicted as witches and are denied access to social amenities as explainedduring the medieval ages. They are exiled to "witch camps." Witch camps are settlements for women banished or fleeing from their communities for alleged witchcraft. They are located in Gambaga, Kukuo, Gnani, Bonyansi, Naboli and Kpatinga which are all scattered settlements in the northern region of Ghana. About a 1000 women still reside in these camps. “Witches camp” Northern Ghana

Courtesy:actionaid.org

When misfortune hits a village, there is a tendency in some countries to suspect a "witch" of casting a spell. In Ghana, outspoken or eccentric women may also be accused of witchcraft - and forced to live out their days together in witch camps. “An accused witch Yadu Masam” ngani, northern Ghana

Courtesy: http://www.zoeyoung.net/node/233 I don’t want to be here. Somebody decided I was a witch. My heart is dead – what I used to know, I don’t know any more…" Yadu Masam - Ngani ‘Witches’ Camp’, Ghana, 2010 Today they are still run by local chiefs, and accommodate up to 1,000 women in spartan huts with no social amenities. Women are expected to be submissive so once you start to be outspoken in your views or even successful in your trade, people assume you must be possessed. A closer look finds no difference at how society today places women. On one side of the world is how art presents reality to us with reference to the great artists, Hans Baldung Grien, and the same is the case in the other part of the world where we look at feminism with reference to one of the most outstanding conceptual artists, Barbara Kruger. I begin with a quote from Guerilla Girls. “Women’s brains may not be capable of much but watch out for their bodies” (Guerilla Girls 16). FEMINISM

Kruger‟s work often questions and critiques the forces that try to make women into objects, disallowing them subjectivity. Well versed in post-structuralism, Kruger blends text with image to deconstruct the tenets of traditional art. Barbara Kruger explores feminist theory through artistic expression. Her work “Your gaze hits the side of my face” is one example of this. This image shows a photo of a classical female statue, the symbol of “beauty” in traditional art history, but undermines this interpretation by pointing out that the male gaze at the female object is an aggressive act that silences women from taking part in the discourse. Kruger's emphasis on breaking down socially constructed notions like "art" and "beauty" makes her works stand out. Her works bring to us the other side of the media and exposes how Americans are being sold the concept that women and girls‟ value lies in their youth, beauty and sexuality. There is more to the expression of women as objects of beauty in the media than expected. Women are portrayed in ways that perpetuate the stereotypes and biases that are held against them. Barbara Kruger

(Your Gaze Hits the Side of My Face) by Barbara Kruger, 1981 Suggesting themes of struggle, power, and control, Kruger‟s image addresses complicated issues such as desire, sexism, consumerism and discrimination and encourages the viewer to question their own perceptions of these taboo topics. A large scale work by Barbara Kruger combines her signature bold text and graphics.

She explores feminist theory through artistic expression as well as the patriarchy, consumerism and the male gaze. Barbara Kruger

YOUR BODY IS A BATTLEGROUND 1989 Here, Kruger voices her opinion to protect women‟s rights through an image that also raises issues of power, patriarchy, stereotyping, and consumption. Her work, “as Your Body is a Battleground”, depicts a bold black and white photograph with its meaning emphasized through red blocks filled with white text. The image is of a women‟s face split symmetrically along the vertical axis. Her gaze is directed straight ahead, making eye contact with the viewer in a confrontational manner. The intent of her eye contact by Kruger was to meet the male gaze and challenge it. Again Kruger positions her subject to question the male gaze. This is because, more than just being an object of the gaze, the woman in the advertisement becomes what‟s being bought and sold. In this way, the male gaze objectifies and subsequently treats women as such. It is through the gaze, that men are able to gain control over the bodies of women, thus creating a “push-pull- battleground” tension between the two sexes. Kruger ties this to a critique of consumerism. Hans Baldung (c. 1484 – 1545)

“The three ages of the Woman and Death” 1509-10 Baldung has this piece that I find common in this aspect. In the painting we see three women at different stages of life. The youngest is the baby, representing infancy, who in turn is looking up to the young woman, who although is an adult, is a young adult with a mirror in her hand, representing beauty and significance. The third figure, on the left of the group is the old woman who represents old age and then there is death that seems to hold what appears to be the life of the old woman who is withering away with wrinkle. Her breasts have sagged. Her stomach muscles can no longer hold in her belly. She doesn‟t have mirror in her hand and by this gesture we take it that she wants to see no more of life. She wants to close it out.There is nothing endearing about the depiction of this old woman. This is exactly how the media portrays old women today. The wrong idea that a woman‟s life is over, after the youthful stage of life that perhaps is why society keeps bombarding our women with assorted beauty products just to make them feel youthful. Could this be an attempt to extend male dominance and to relegate women? Art, thus reveals to us the realities of life and in this regard, it becomes clear that art does more than meets the eye. Whereas older generations of western women were faced with a complete lack of choice or freedom with regard to how they wanted to live and what social positions they occupied, now, society and patriarchy has shifted, and while women‟s choices have expanded enormously in

the area of what women can do or be even in art, women are given few options on how to look, act, and feel in their own body. Barbara Kruger

YOU ARE NOT YOURSELF (1982) Kruger‟s “You Are Not Yourself”, uses this humorous technique to underscore a feminist point of view. The woman‟s face looks stressed and upset. She‟s wearing make-up and has her nails painted, like a lady should. The words „you are not yourself‟ are disjointedly laid over a photograph of a distressed woman looking into a shattered mirror. This montage is immediately ironic because you are looking into a mirror, the object our culture relies on to reflect reality, but it is cracked and without its reassurance you are not yourself. Somehow without the recognition of the mirror, the axis of our culture, your own existence is in question. This begs the question why are you not yourself? Continuing with the theme of feminist art, Kruger is perhaps indicating that you are not yourself because our culture, ruled by the mirror and the media, mandates that you be one thing that you are not or possibly may never be. Feminism is at play here. The woman looking into the shattered mirror with a distressed face shows that she isn‟t as confident as she should be. She is wearing makeup, trying to make herself up. She isn‟t herself because she feels like she needs to dress and look a certain way, which isn‟t her. Kruger is commenting on the unreality of the ideal female image portrayed by the media today which forms part of this project and until the world wakes up to the need for equality, I will work on this piece through art to tell the story. For detailed article, click on this link Credit:

Chadwick, Whitney, Women, Art, and Society. New York: Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, 2007. Print The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. New York: Penguin, 1998. Print. Kruger, Barbara, profile/biography http://www.barbarakruger.com/biography.shtml Hoak, Dale,History Today Volume: 31 Issue: 2 1981, Witch-Hunting and Women in the Art of the Renaissance http://www.historytoday.com/dale-hoak/witch-hunting-and-women-art-renaissance Jones, Adam ,The European Witch-Hunts, c. 1450-1750 and Witch-Hunts Today http://www.gendercide.org/case_witchhunts.html Ziem Joseph, Disbandment of Witches‟ Camps should not Endanger Lives of the Victims, January 31, 2012 http://rumnet.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/disbandment-of-witches-camps-should-not-endangerlives-of-the-victims/ Whitaker, Kati, Ghana witch camps: Widows' lives in exile, Kukuo, northern Ghana, 31 August 2012 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19437130 Kruger, Barbara, The Art History Archive - Feminist Art http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/feminist/Barbara-Kruger.html YOUNG, ZOE, Evans Saskia and Cuadrado, Andrea Bringing Balance: Bridging Worlds, 'What I Used To Know.. The Road To Ghana's 'Witches' Camps', March 2011 http://www.zoeyoung.net/node/233 Baldung Grien, Hans (c. 1484 – 1545) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 26 November 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Baldung#Early_life