I’ve always loved nude female photography and art ever since I saw Le Violin d’Ingres by Man Ray in my 8th grade photo class. I loved the dark mood, anonymous form, and the naturalness of the model's nakedness. I went on to explore similar work like Arno Rafael Minkinnen and tried my own hand at nude modelling for drawing classes and photography.
Recently, I started using Playboy magazines for collage to incorporate the nude female forms. As I’m deepening my understanding of my experience as a woman, surrounded by amazing women steeped in feminism, and inspired by a rise in feminist artists, I started to see how fucked up our culture is. These magazines are a microcosm of objectification, possession, manipulation, and sexualization of women. Taken from “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture” by Ariel Levy, Hugh Hefner says:
"The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning, and I chose it because it's a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping--sexy. First it smells you, then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like caressing it, playing with it. A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful, joking. Consider the kind of girl that we made popular: the Playmate of the month. She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have. She is a young, healthy, simple girl--the girl next door…we are not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow mentally filthy. The Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is naked, well-washed with soap and water, and she is happy"
Hefner and Playboy, among so many others, have created a false sense of womanhood that exists solely for men’s pleasure. All the qualities he deems as uninteresting are exactly what fascinate me regarding women both in art and real time. Our emotional complexity, mystery, elegance, melancholy, and unique expression of sexuality are what make us beautiful, interesting, and powerful as individuals.
So I’ve been cutting these “well-washed” bunnies out of this highly male-dominated context and embracing their natural forms in a new context: one that emphasizes real women with real emotions and their own unique sexual expression.