Commissioned by Sofia Queer Forum
Installation: printed pillows, photography on canvas, drapery and love-seat
“Amazon Armor” is a series of projects that looks at the possibilities bodies with variable anatomies to be liked. Through humorous autobiographical performances, photographs, drawings and objects I present my new body, which has no breasts, proposing scenarios in which the beauty of the female body is possible even when this undoubtedly accepted and prized attribute of femininity is missing.
I included in the process of creation of these works my friends and viewers of the performances. Double mastectomy was necessary medical intervention for prevention of the cancer, which has been found in my body. Differently to other women, who prefer to make silicon reconstruction or try to hide this body change, I decided to not to go for any of the two. I made this decision visible political appeal to accept this type of body not only as possible, but as beautiful also.
In USA the discussion about the balance between aesthetics and concerns about the health of the patients exists not only in the medical circles, but on a federal level, which led to state sponsored breast recreation plastic surgery. The aesthetic concerns took over the medical ones. There is nothing wrong in the fact many women are reconstructing a similitude of their breasts on a low price. But more interesting is what are the factors, which create the possibility for this to happen. Possibly this is due to the strong lobby of the plastic surgeons, who thus will have more work. But the persuasiveness of this lobby is obviously based on the beauty standards of the society as a whole. Therefore my work is aiming at diversification of this common opinion, and diversification of possible body aesthetics.
My second aim is to challenge the expectation of unified behavior of women who went through a surgery like this. These women are not just few, as well can imagine, and they live long lives. But their invisibility is due to the stigma over their “queer” body that had “lost” its femininity and sexiness. Very few of these women show their bodies or talk about their experience. And if this ever happens, the media representation of body like this is usually focused on the wonderful silicon recreation of the previous femininity (Angelina Jolie).
Unfortunately though, the recreation of this–I would like to underline—previous femininity is pain
ful, psychologically traumatic and not always beautiful. But the society, as well as most of the women with mastectomy, require a media representation as this of Jolie, so everybody calms down that everything “will be as it was,” people around these women will perceive them “as the previous ones” and most importantly as “normal.” This heavy psychological pressure has been rejected by some of the women with mastectomy, through self-exposure, flashing the scars of the “new” body and most importantly through laughter. This is the purpose of my artistic work as well – joining these women with great sense of humor, to “strip down” the problem, to show my body as a laughing one, as beautiful and sexy. Using as fundament the ancient myth about the amazons, who cut their breasts off to better steady their bows, I want to create the still non-existent social space where people can be introduced to new possible scenarios, different to the fear and hiding of the body without the breast.
Therefore I invite the audience to use this intimate love-seat, shown at this exposition and covered with pillows, on which pictures from my work have been printed. At this place, audience meets the public manifestation of this “personal,” but actually wider social problem, which manifestation creates politically charged space for experiencing the different body, for the purposes of an active discussion around it and its legitimization in the “temple of the commonly-accepted beauty” (this last expression is ironic).