Tuesday, 4 October 2011
I was instantly stunned when I came across Yolanda Domínguez's “Poses” project. In her own words:
“Poses” is a direct criticism of the absurd and artificial world of glamour and of fashion that magazines present. Specifically, the highly-distorted image of women that they transmit through models that do not represent real women and that avoid all those who are not within their restricted parameters.
These images are virtually the only feminine reference in the mass media and they have a great influence in both men and women when building our roles in terms of behavior and ways of thinking.
Using these impossible stances of the fashion publishing houses as a symbol of how grotesque and unreal this industry is, a group of real women transfer these poses to daily scenes: the queue of a museum, the supermarket or the bus stop, sparking off the reaction of the spectators (on the other hand, regular consumers of these images).
The aim: to make it clear how ridiculous, and at times harmful, it can be to follow these models that the world of glamour impose on us.
-Quote from Yolanda's website.
I think this is one of the most important recent projects I've encountered. It's only when somebody directly shows you what models' poses look like in 'real life', outside of the insular frame of glossy magazines and advertising, that you realise how absurd they really are. Just the other day I was watching tv with a friend when an ad for foundation makeup came on screen. The model flounced around like a two-year old, pouted every few seconds, batted her eyelashes quite annoyingly and spoke in the most babyish tones. My friend and I looked at each other as if to say, 'seriously'? If I acted like that in real life, people would question my sanity and intelligence. I don't know about you, but I rarely imitate toddlers in my behaviour. My problem is not with the product being sold, but with the way it's being sold and the implications this has for women's self-perceptions. Yolanda questions the same thing in her project. This is what I want art to do: to unsettle us, ask questions and shake us out of our complacency.
I've spoken to Yolanda, who has kindly agreed to a small interview. I really think that the concepts and motivations behind this project are best explained through her own words, rather than mine. I hope you find this interview with Yolanda as fascinating as I do.
: : HS: Tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic background
YD: I studied Fine Arts in Madrid's Complutense University, a Masters in Art and New Technologies in the European University of Madrid and a Masters in Concept and Creation in Photography in Madrid's EFTI School.
For me art is communication, and I soon realized that painting and other traditional media are too aesthetic and their function is, in the end, just to decorate a room, so I decided to create my own strategy to reach people and communicate my concerns. Fortunately, there are many other artists also working in this direction.
I develop projects about gender subjects that question the established attitudes of women through experiences called “livings”, that are situations or settings, inserted in real life contexts, in which the spectators find themselves involved and can take part.
: : How would you describe your art?
I try to generate social criticism and a reaction handling situations that are sensitive and disturbing for the spectator. I use alternative channels to those of the conventional art circuit to reach all kinds of people, anywhere, and when not expected. Also I would say that my art touches on deep subjects, but with a little humor and irony. I think when you laugh at something you get rid of it ...
: : What’s the ‘Poses’ project all about? Where did the idea for the ‘Poses’ project come from, and what motivated you to develop such a project?
I am outraged that photographers and fashion editorials throw women on the floor, put them into ridiculous positions; submissive, dead, diseased ... I do not identify with these women and almost no woman does identify with them. However, all strive to be like them because we have no other reference. This leads to many disorders and diseases. It seems that women cannot have a wrinkle, or cannot weigh more than 50 kilos, or cannot be older than 25 years. That is not healthy or sane. The men never go out in these poses and situations. I want to send a message to all those photographers and magazines that spread these distorted images of women, that they have a huge responsibility and that they are creating the world with their images. Also, I want those who consume these images to see them otherwise.
: : How many people are involved in this project?
There were 6 actresses, 2 video cameras, a musician, me as director ... and of course all the people involved unconsciously: spectators, police, security guards, passers-by ...
: : Has there been a particular ‘pose’ that has affected you the most?
All poses I have chosen are somewhat twisted and insane. Of course not all fashion editorials put the models this way, I chose those that seemed more exaggerated. But that pattern of submissive, weak and sickly women does constantly repeat itself in the fashion world. But it's nothing new and this image of women has repeated itself for many centuries since the first paintings by artists (of course, by men).
: : Do you view your art as challenging ideas about women’s bodies?
It is very difficult to change something that has become implicit during so many years of male and female behavior. Anyone who has seen my project will probably not totally change their attitude, but it has caused him/her to reflect and see things differently. I hope that some will think twice before spilling another woman on the floor and that some will laugh in the mirror when they try to imitate those models.
: : Which artists are you influenced by? What else influences you, besides art?
The brave ones, those who create new things in any discipline, now everything is related and mixed. I love people proposing new things in design, architecture, gastronomy ... Ferrán Adria, Ai Weiwei, Santiago Sierra, Marina Abramovic, Jaime Hayón, Orlan, Banksy … an endless list!
: : Lastly, what’s your next planned project?
I cannot reveal ;) But it will soon be revealed, at any time, and any country.
: : Sounds intriguing! Thanks Yolanda.
All images are copyrighted to Yolanda Domínguez and can be found on her website and blog. Many thanks to Yolanda for allowing me to feature them here.