In response to numerous inquiries today, this week's blog series is inspired by the book entitled The Second Sex written by French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, and released to critical acclaim in 1949. It is a work in two volumes (the first entitled Facts and Myths, and the second, Lived Experience) about the treatment of women throughout history, and is regarded as a major treatise on feminist philosophy, and considered by many as the starting point of 2nd-wave feminism. Having studied this particular book under the guidance of Dr Debra Bergoffen, I've kept my copy, and frequently turn to individual passages when I try to understand the justifications given by some politicians regarding their attempts to limit the autonomy of women, especially in the area of reproductive rights, and wage equality. In part two of the first volume, "History," Beauvoir states that two factors which explains the evolution of women's condition are: being able to participate in production, and by this she refers to the ability to generate an income; and freedom from reproductive slavery, the latter, a condition much opposed by some conservative members of society and certain religious groups who vehemently oppose any attempts to expand the accessibility of birth-control.
Today's visual treat is by photographer Kacper Kasprzyk for Dazed and Confused magazine. He was inspired by artist Richard Prince's 'Nurse Paintings,' based on the covers of 1950/60's pulp novels about naughty nurses, which when first displayed at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in 2003 were greeted with skepticism, disbelief, and disgust; various critics called them gory, repulsive, and misogynous. Even outside the small, tightly-controlled 'art-world,' some questioned the artist's intent, and searched for 'meaning.' Sandy Summers (RN, MSN, and MPH of The Truth About Nursing, a non-profit organization that seeks to increase public understanding of the central role nursers play in health care, as well as promoting accurate and balanced medial portrayals of nurses) wrote, ' Interesting is the fact that the white-clad nurses in these paintings are effectively gagged . . . Trapped in their oppressive clothes and our oppressive attitudes, the pulp nurses may reflect the continuing plight of nurses, and women generally . . . The blood spots on their bodies are stigmatas of caring . . . Though it's unlikely Prince intended it, it's possible to see this exhibition as a harsh but constructive critique of nursing's invisibility and a call to action.' Now regarded as contemporary masterpieces and pivotal within Prince's oeuvre, many collectors and art-lovers are simultaneously delighted and disgusted by their so-called fetish quality.
The Nurse Paintings and other artworks by Richard Prince can be viewed online at www.richardprinceart.com, and at www.gagoshian.com.
PS: Today's soundtrack is Fila Brazillia's Leggy (Maim That Tune)