Feminist & artist. Writing & visuals.

Image Slider

Orly Cogan & her personal mythologies

| On

Orly Cogan is an artist based in New York who works primarily in textiles, using found tablecloths as a canvas. Her intimate, story-like pieces seek to challenge feminine archetypes - drug and cake consumption are some of the unsuspected gems that hide in plain sight within the girlish patterns. Evolving "from the personal mythology of my memories", her use of vintage fabrics extend this mythology back to women in previous generations and give her work a thought-provoking collaborative aspect.

Currently in the stage of moving into a new home and studio, I was able to speak to Orly and ask a couple of questions about what I found to be an interesting characteristic in her works.

I saw your interview at Volta 9 and you said something interesting about "telling a narrative story through the eyes of a child", that they see the world "uninhibited, reliant on the senses"; it reminded me of that quote from Picasso: "it took for four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child". What do you think draws artists to this point of view? 

There’s an immediacy and innocence to a young child’s art making.  There is also a purity of joy and complete lack of self-consciousness.  Children don’t dwell about the outcome and the need for approval hasn't kicked in yet so their artwork is often more about the journey and less about the destination.  It’s that kind of honesty that Picasso was probably referring to.

The "intimacy and vulnerability interchanged with fantasy and fairy tale" you spoke about, would you say that these are attributes of childhood, and do you think these get lost as we age?

Fantasy and reality is mixed for young children. There is a very thin line that separates fairytale from ordinary life and that is a wonderful thing for a child to hold on to for as long as possible. Difficult as it is I think as adults we try to get back to that kind of place through readying, movies and art.  Much of my art has dealt with this dichotomy in portraying the banal domestic realm versus the fairy tale narrative.

Orly Cogan Feminartist
Spin Cycle
Orly Cogan Feminartist

Orly Cogan Feminartist
Wonder of You
You can see more of Orly Cogan's art on her website, orlycogan.com.

Talking to Robyn Nichol

| On

Robyn Nichol Feminartist

Nineteen year old Robyn Nichol is a feminist and artist from West Yorkshire. Featured above is 'The Fear', a piece that resonates with many young women. Nightgowns, however, are just one of the props to feature in her provocative and question raising artworks: femidoms, tampons, pregnancy tests and sex toys being some of the others.

Artist: Alex Skinner

| On
Alex Skinner body hair

Alex Skinner is an artist from London, Ontario and has just finished the advanced diploma in Fine Art at Fanshawe College. In September she will be starting at NSCAD University as an advance standing student and will finish her BFA there. I was immediately drawn to her Hair painting series, in which there is a tactile quality that leaves you thinking you might just be able to brush your hand against the stubble. The elegance of the paintings leaves to viewer to reconsider any preconceptions they may have on body hair, and the absence of a definable subject/gender distances us from our culturally conditioned reactions. Photo-realistic, but not an exercise in self-congratulation, they're good paintings, but they're not just good paintings. A self-professed passionate feminist, her intimate works subtly make us question our relationship with our fuzz. In her own words:

"I spend quite a bit of time looking at social issues surrounding gender. My work often reflects this where I have focused on topics of inequality, rape culture and of course body hair."

Kopano & Fatal Attraktion

| On
Jemma Bradford Kopano  Fatal Attraktion Jemma Bradford

Kopano, or Jemma Bradford is a young performer from Australia who is flying to Sydney in July to star as Sophia her first feature length film, Fatal Attraktion. I've been following Kopano for a while, and have always found myself impressed with her music, so I'm excited to see her branch into acting. Directed by Damiano Dentice, the film's Kickstarter page summarises:

"FATAL ATTRAKTION follows a young woman named Sophia as she deals with the relationships she has with her boyfriend, mother and best friend. In each of these situations conflicts arise about what is to be expected of her as a girlfriend, daughter and best friend. Confronted with these expectations Sophia must find ways to resolve the issue and find her true self."

As if this premise wasn't enough, it is also promised to be a "visual spectacle", with colour coordination, fashion-forward styling and VHS photography. Dentice's vision is one we can trust: an artist, his influences from the internet to late 90s/early 00s aesthetics paint a picture in my mind of a film worth looking forward to. 

Not without the disadvantage of different time zones, I had the chance to speak to Jemma about the film and her role:

Why I'm not entirely convinced on Dove

| On

For the most part, Dove's adverts make me happy. I feel represented when I see women my size in their campaigns, I find growing up less daunting when I see their pro-ageing posters. A few years ago they used a powerful time lapse video to reveal to the public what can be done on Photoshop, and that we should question the depictions of beauty we see around us. This is all great, but it's not doing anything to change the fact we're still valued on our appearance, and beauty is still our goal.

Unilever, the company that owns Dove, along with many others, is run by men. It is also the company that owns Lynx, infamously sexist in their advertising (warning: links offer possible explanation as why so many boys overcompensate with deodorant). Their name is on both the complimentary Dove campaigns and the offensive ones of their male-demographic counterpart; so you can see why I'm ambivalent.