Press Release Archive
PRESS RELEASE - Gender Agenda
215 South Fourth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Gallery Project presents Gender Agenda, a multi-media exhibition in which 21 local, regional and national artists bring gender issues to center stage. They explore gender identity, broaden the scope of the terms masculine and feminine, and seek to tear away binary descriptions. Artists include Heather Ault, MB, Debra Broz, Sarah Buckius, PG Toys, Steve Coy, Charles Fairbanks, Adrianne Fernandez, He-Bops, Patrick Hillman, Heidi Kumao, Robert Lendrum, Lauren McEntire, Marisa Miller, Cal Navin, Erik Peterson, Mike Richison, Joel Seah, Jada Schumacher, Jeff Schweitzer, Catherine Smith, Jack Summers.
The exhibition opens Wednesday, August 6, and runs through Sunday, September 14. The reception is Friday, August 8 from 6-9.
There are fundamental differences between men and women, namely, physiological and chemical. However, how we behave as men and women is more complex and constructed than our physical bases. Masculinity and femininity were tools of control and power long before science discovered biochemical inclinations towards these seemingly divisive terms. A broad range of identities and realities lie between these poles and outside mainstream consideration. As one of the contributing artists asks “Are binary gender performances necessarily retrogressive”? When is it okay to act “like a man” or to act “like a woman”?
As part of exploring what is intrinsic or expected from masculinity or femininity, it is useful to establish the causes of such pervasive need for binary descriptors in our society. Rich/Poor, Red State/Blue State, and Good/Evil are common binaries that fill our modern day rhetoric. These opposites enable the easy usage of masculine/feminine and its accompanying blue/pink and aggression/empathy dialectics. Perhaps men are from Mars and women from Venus because we are unable or unwilling to consider the more subtle, complex, and sophisticated differences. We simplistically choose planets millions of miles in opposite directions to describe the inhabitants.
Do the Jungian terms anima, the feminine principle as present in men, and animus, the masculine principle as present in women, soften the potency of gender categorization by allowing either sex to represent the qualities of the other, or simply solidify the terms as rhetoric existing outside the realm of concrete biology? Over time stereotypes of gender have turned into archetypes of gender that are now roles we can don and doff as we need them. Even if one invokes these gender archetypes for personal empowerment or social criticism are they still reinforcing historical stereotypes? Also, how much does gender identity stem from its relationship to sexual orientation? Lesbians are often codified as “butch” and gay men termed with Schwarzenegger’s “girly-men”.
In our postmodern age of technological advancements, we can have it both ways: participants of Second-Life (an online virtual realm) can act out the ultimate construction of gender without biology versus the transgendered person’s ultimate biological reconstruction of gender.
In this exhibit, visitors are able to explore their own assumptions about gender and learn what a diverse group of artists are saying about the subject.