[Edit: I found this March 2014 post from about older work languishing in my drafts folder. I am no longer working with such crowded compositions, nor on 11 x 14″ papers. I only post this now in the interest of completion within this research blog. More carefully edited thoughts on the matter appear in this series of posts.]
One of the unifying themes of this first doll costume collection has been roles or archetypes presented by art history. In this version, and in conjunction with reviewing Idols of Perversity, I was thinking about the oddball ideas our culture has perpetuated about virginity. As many others have already pointed out, the mess of ideas about female purity lends an extra bit of titillation to hypersexualized youths.
Queen Elizabeth I got thrown into this mix because of a contradiction that fascinated me since high school. At the time, I choose to do extra research on her to contextualize Shakespeare and because I badly needed to know more about powerful ladies in history. It frustrated me so much that most of every biography I read was preoccupied with speculation about her love life. I get that this canny ruler capitalized on patriarchy in many ways, but how can I fail to be disappointed that this powerful monarch is remembered as the Virgin Queen?
Each page of costumes is a mixed bag, and so is the overall drift of the collected pages. (Translation: they aren’t just stuff I don’t like and stuff I like…but some are more positive than others.)
This page of costumes answered the following question: what did I understand about feminism before reading up on it a-purpose? Before a high school teacher’s pejorative tirade about NOW and card-carrying feminists (which obviously backfired), the honest would have to be: girl power and the Spice Girls.
Paper dolls evoke a remarkable bit of nostalgia when I discuss this project (especially with other female-bodied persons). I was surprised by how readily women of my generation can still name and defend their favorite Spice Girl.
I have done other projects to address my opinions about the Disney princess merchandising machine. As a group, the homogeneity (and concomitant irrelevance) of their facial features is interesting. More sincerely, I am absolutely one of those people who recognizes people first by their hair. This dates back to the days when my terrible eyesight left no other means by which to distinguish between classmates while playing sports.
Yes, there are a few wigs missing. They might turn up elsewhere. Expect future pages for iconic hair from art history (esp. Mucha’s whiplash curves).