Fem-art or fem-offensive? Depends on your definition of ‘art’.
Years ago when I was teaching and my eighth grade students were reading the play The Diary of Anne Frank, I offered them a choice of three projects that they were to complete following our study of the play and its wider implications. Two projects were research and writing-based—the third? Build a scaled replica of the Anne Frank house using mostly found objects—nothing purchased, just stuff found lying around the house to make this replica as close to the real thing as possible. I even introduced the word ‘verisimilitude’ as a way to stress that the house should be neither whimsical nor resemble a standard dollhouse. The goal of this project was for students to have a comprehensive understanding of the limitations that the families in hiding had experienced.
Some students created amazing replicas; others had their parents do it (we can always tell, Mom), and still others half-assed the whole thing. Like Brian. Brian handed in a cardboard box. Inside the box was a stick and a rolled-up piece of clay. Brian was completely mystified when I refused to accept it.
“But it’s art.”
No, it wasn’t art. It was a box with a stick and a piece of rolled up clay inside. Just like this is not art:
No, your eyes did not deceive you. That pants-less woman with the really bad haircut is self-proclaimed “craftivist” Casey Jenkins from Melbourne, Australia, and she was indeed pulling yarn out of her body from a place where yarn really doesn’t belong, then knitting it into … I don’t even know what.
Nothing I want throw around my neck, that’s for damn sure.
Before I join the millions worldwide that Casey Jenkins has categorized as “Haters” and provide a cursory commentary on her particular brand of performance art —because what can I say that hasn’t already been said—I have some questions for her.
- Are you in a committed relationship with any of the balls of yarn you’ve introduce into your portal of happiness?
- You’re putting different balls of yarn all up in that thing every day. Are they wearing protection?
- Where are you finding these balls of yarn? In a box? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
- What exactly are you knitting? Doesn’t look like a sweater to me.
- What are you going to do with that seemingly endless streamer of knitted v-yarn?
- What do you actually do to earn a living when you’re not knittin’ from your kitten?
- Does it hurt?
Look, I consider myself rather creative. I’ve written a few things. I appreciate allegory, allusion, alliteration, and extended metaphor as much as anybody does.
But come on.
The only metaphorical thing I can conjure from this—and this is a stretch, I assure you— is that the yarn is being stored in an entryway, of sorts, that leads into a room (of sorts) where babies grow. She’s pulling yarn out of this entryway and fashioning it into … what? A baby blanket? For the love of all that is holy, I certainly hope not. So, maybe this extended metaphor is a little too … well … extended.
So, what is her point? And, please dispense with any statement that has the word “awareness” in it. Even if I’m not hip enough to get this, I can tell you that this is not art. This is a cry for attention. This is a case of throw-enough-shizz-up-against-the-wall-and-some-of-it’s-bound-to-stick-edness. Except that instead of sticking to the wall it’s stuck all up in there.
Does she have a right to express herself thusly? Yes. Do the rest of the normal people on the planet have to pretend to think that what she is doing constitutes art? No. As a woman, does this offend me? No, because that would make me a victim, and victims, especially feminist victims, get all excited and empowered over crap like this. Not me. I say, do your thing, Casey, just don’t expect the rest of us to whisper in hushed NPRish tones about how courageous and daring you are.
That Casey Jenkins has opened up the floodgates (ah, here come the metaphors) of criticism about her art is really not surprising. Anyone with a scintilla of common sense or intelligence will realize that her unique style of craftiness is nothing but this: Look at me! I can pull yarn out of my girlfriend, knit a really long scarf, and call it art!
Like Brian and his box, it’s not art. It’s just stupid.