This is an online tour of my senior project. The project itself will be an
art installation exploring gender in United States mainstream culture and
its fringe culture applications. There will be four different sections
which each explore gender from a different angle; each will have a "rest
stop" where visitors can recharge, have a snack, and talk about it all.
1. An area explaining gender using the ways it is taught in schools
to young children. I want to set this up so that the viewers feel like
children, with everything oversized and out of proportion: very large
children's books, oversized "gendered" toys with the genders confused
(frilly pink firetrucks, for example), and interactive areas with
questions like "pink is for girls and blue is for boys. why? what color
would you pick for your gender?" and very large crayons/easels for the
viewer to use.
Other things for this area:
- Models of gender as we learn it (a pink and a blue ball for the
model; a short rainbow of balls for the idea that gender is a continuum
between male and female; a series of other, less recognized ideas about
gender, focusing on my own theory that it is more like a sphere.)
- Big storybooks that visitors can read (like the
story of Baby
- A rest stop with graham crackers and apple juice.
2. An exploration of gender as it is taught through mass media, including:
- Parodies of popular ad campaigns which twist the way they use
gender to sell a product. Many ads use gender as a selling point, showing
the perfect mom or the most virile man as if promising that their
detergent/sports car will make you perfectly gendered as well. These ads
will twist those ideas around.
- Movie clips which show traditional gender roles, but which have been
re-shot or edited to reverse the roles.
- A rest stop with popcorn and soda.
3. Gender outside the "normal" binary model, as people experience it
through their own bodies and experiences.
4. The ways that the male/female gender roles which are supposed to be
"natural" change between cultures and classes, and a final application of
what they've learned here:
- Large quotes on the walls of transgendered people commenting on
their experiences or describing themselves:
"When I was a bit younger, I first realized that I did not
identify with either gender entirely, but with nearly-equal
parts of both. The main part of this that distressed me
was that I had no name for my condition. I was not
transgendered, not any kind of normal. (This was long
before I stopped putting labels on myself.) I asked many
people I knew 'Hypothetically, if someone identified with
both genders equally, what would they be called?'"
"hi. i'm lion and i'm the partner/wife/lover of a butch woman. she is
soft type butch (new age butch) on the streets, and really quite a
feminist in her values and politics...her dual gender is very much a
sexual thing---she sees herself sexually as more male than female, wonders
what it would be like to live more male, but isn't crazy about male
culture and likes dyke culture....i'm comfortable with it all as it
changes. i am a femme identified jewish lesbian, a mom, i work with queers
and teach. what do you wanna know about me? i like life on the edge."
"*giggle* I prefer to not have a label at all, but since people seem
want to know what gender and orientation I am, I may as well give them a
confusing label, at best. So a nongendered lesbian kinda sums it up. I
don't want to have a gender (or at least a label ;), and I like women, and
I associate myself more with being female than being male, so lesbian
works well. Especially since I can't say "gay" or "straight"...those
require male/female gender labels. ;)
I chose my gender. None of the above. I like it like that. My *body*, on
the other hand, I want to be feminine. Big difference."
- A visual explanation of the different ways there are to be intersexed, using
brightly-colored fimo clay sculptures.
- More oversized storybooks, or a photo album of sorts, with intersexed
people's personal experiences.
- Mannequins with gender accessories, and full-length mirrors, so
people can try the different costumes of gender on themselves.
- A rest stop with phallic pastries of all sorts. And rice milk.
- A rainbow of pictures of women showing the standard of
"good/pretty" women in each culture, with feminist words from each culture
on the pictures.
- Blown-up version of the gender pyramid from Kate Bornstein's "My
Gender Workbook," which deconstructs gender along class and race lines.
- Forms that visitors need to fill out before they can leave, with
comments about the installation as well as traditional form fields, except
the gender options will be something other than "male" and "female," and
there will be other unexpected changes in what is considered "important"
information about them. (for example, occupation instead of
- Cell in the corner with three more mannequins: a police officer and
two incarcerated folks who were thrown in for being too genderqueer
- Doors to exit, which look like bathroom doors but have different
strange symbols on them - like carbon/silicon instead of male/female.