Press "Enter" to skip to content

Art Monsters: Unruly Bodies in Feminist Art by Lauren Elkin review – when freestyle thinking goes too far

Elkin’s capacious survey of female artists who focused on the body might have worked better as a collection of essays When Lauren Elkin began work on this book, she believed its subject was monstrosity and female creativity, her spur a now much-quoted line from Jenny Offill’s 2014 novel Dept of Speculation: “My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead.” Naturally, Elkin hardly needed to be told that such a monster is almost inevitably male: a beast who relies on women for all the mundane things in life (the cooking, the washing, the regular praise due to an undoubted genius). Female art monsters are thin on the ground because to become one means choosing work over motherhood. But it wasn’t only such unfairness that interested her. The more she thought about it, the more she saw that while it is still agonisingly difficult for a woman to allow herself to be monstrous – how we fear baring our teeth – it’s also terrifyingly easy inadvertently to become so, at least in the eyes of others. Behaviour that is perfectly acceptable in a man – determination, rage, ambition – is all too often seen as ugly and unwarranted in a woman. Continue reading...

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: