Cut It Out: Feminist Collage Artist Liz Peniazeva's Queer Contact Relations
We’re swept up in the disarticulation.
Liz Peniazeva, photographed by Tim Da Rin.
It was 38 years ago, in 1979, that conceptual artist Judy Chicago unveiled her seminal feminist art piece, “The Dinner Party,” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern. Dinner Party functions as a symbolic history of women in Western civilization, and, crucially, it signaled the beginning of a movement to reclaim “traditionally female” art practices – in Chicago’s case, embroidery and stitch work were transformed from indexical traces of domestic oppression into puncturing reminders of the different ways in which herstory has been recorded. While men had pens, women had needle and thread.
Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party"
Fast forward almost four decades, and the pioneering work that Chicago was doing remains vitally relevant—"The Dinner Party" currently resides in Brooklyn Museum’s collection and has done since 2002. As women’s bodily and reproductive autonomy continues to be cast as an issue that is somehow up for debate, sexual assault is almost inevitably paired with slut-shaming, and sex workers struggle to retain even minimal legal rights, art that severs traditional expectations of women and the female body is not just beneficial, but necessary.
Left: Untitled, Right: Girls, Girls, Girls; by Liz Peniazeva
Liz Peniazeva is a Sydney based artist who is using collage – an artistic practice often derided for its associations with “girly” and “childish” activities like scrapbooking – to force us to rethink notions of gender, domesticity and sexuality.
Collecting and working with vintage ephemera, Liz re-contextualises archaic representations of women into scenes that rupture expectations of femininity. She arranges clippings from publications that typically target women – such as gardening and craft books – and in so doing builds new environments for women to exist in brazenly, enveloped in self-conscious satire and playfulness.
Recent works by Liz Peniazeva, photographed by Tim Da Rin.
Oftentimes figures of women are taken from their traditional visual landscapes, and spliced into new, strange contact relations. The erotic charges that ensue are both a product of the viewer’s imagination, and a startling reminder to consider the ways in which our society fetishizes and objectifies lesbian relationships.
Liz’s works are sometimes disturbing, sometimes sexy, and sometimes, confusingly, both. Take a look.
Judy Chicago designing the entry banners; Courtesy of Through the Flower Archive
And if you're keen to know more about The Dinner Party, we highly recommend checking out an exhibition coming to Brooklyn Museum on October 20, entitled Roots of “The Dinner Party”: History in the Making. Brooklyn Museum is the permanent home of the work since 2002, and this exhibition will examine the formal, material, and conceptual development of The Dinner Party. It will present never-before-seen objects that illuminate the installation’s development as a multilayered artwork, a triumph of collaborative art-making, and a testament to the power of revising Western history to include women. If you’re around NYC, make it a dinner date.