Thursday, November 12, 2009

This is What a Feminist Family Looks Like

This was originally going to be a post about ridiculous, sensationalist art projects, be they a hoax web page or an actual rape tunnel (Yeah...wait a minute I'll get to that).

Instead, this is a post how awesome my family is...and how their awesomeness energizes me and gives me hope for the future.

This afternoon my brother-in-law post a link to this on my Facebook profile:

Please describe the project.

In the 4D Gallery main room, I’ve constructed a 22 ft tunnel out of plywood that leads into the project room. There is no way in or out of the project room except for this tunnel. As you travel through the tunnel, it gets smaller and smaller, making it so that you have to crawl and put yourself in a submissive position in order to reach the tunnel’s destination. At the end of the tunnel the subject will find me waiting in the project room and I’ll try to the best of my ability to overpower and rape the person who crawls through.

Why rape?

Because as an artistic gesture, it’s one of the most impactful I can think of...In 2007 at the Seward Projects Space in Columbus, I had my first breakthrough with an installation that was to be the prototype for this current one. It was called THE PUNCH-YOU-IN-THE-FACE TUNNEL. It was the same set-up as THE RAPE TUNNEL except at the end of the tunnel I’d punch the subject in the face instead of raping him or her. The impetus was completely reactionary to the current state of art, and motivated by pure frustration...

Rape seemed like the next logical step. brother-in-law's reaction? "Seriously? This guy should be [insert method of death here]! How do people become so twisted?" Good question, bro.

But putting aside the "art" for a moment...most people would never expect this little digital exchange between my brother-in-law and I to take place. My brother is a practicing Mormon (like many other religions, not really known for its feminist principles) and me, well, I'm a raging feminist with a Master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies with a blog that I use to critique systems of oppression enforced through everything from policy to pop-culture.

But, my brother is smart, and thinks critically and we respect one another so we can have really critical conversations about politics and religion - all the things you aren't supposed to talk about in polite society. But we do. Not all the time, sometimes we play video games, but this is also the guy that totally got why I bought his three year old a pink soccer ball. And so I am really excited by the fact that I can be one of his outlets for questioning the patriarchy.

But, back to the "art." I saw this on my Facebook page this afternoon while I was in the middle of a project at work (what? I'm actually supposed to be online at work - hi, boss!) and couldn't really formulate a response other than a "WTF!?! This is so gonna be a blog." But on the way home, I started thinking, "The first thing I'm going to do is validate that this crap is actually real." But guess what? I didn't have to. By the time I got home and logged into my email, my mom had emailed me two stories from totally obscure sources that called it out as fake.

The fact that my mom would be enraged by this isn't surprising. This feminist apple didn't fall far from the tree. But it was only in the last six months or so that my mom created a Facebook account and got herself a shiny new Mac and a Gmail address, and today, in sixty seconds flat, she used them all to delve into the interwebs and give her daughter fodder for her blog.

(My husband also called it out as fake in the Facebook thread, noting that it was no less upsetting that it was a hoax, but duh...that is just another example of why I married him.)

So, I'm sure by tomorrow all of the blogs will be going "ZOMG! WTF?! It's a fake and here is a really in-depth analysis of the bullshit that is passed off as 'controversial art'!" I, however, was way more interested in how my family responded to it.

Here is to my awesome social critic brother-in-law and my technologically advanced mom - and all of our virtual and real life feminist conversations. See you at Thanksgiving!


  1. You and your feminist family are awesome.
    The fact that someone thought it was funny to make a "rape tunnel" hoax (and I actually believed it was true!), does not surprise me, but it makes me really weary. Also, my lack of surprise makes me sad.

  2. Thanks! Agreed, my lack of surprise was also really depressing.

  3. i assumed it was a critique of poorly conceived, lazy, shocking for the sake of shocking conceptual art?


be nice.


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