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From last session….Screen printing:

the body vi feminist bodies postmodern bodies 2

REVIEW: Postmodernism in art started during the second half of the 20th century, and has to a certain extent continued through contemporary practice. It was characterised by its challenging of previously held views.

  • No one single truth – always many points of view (women; Indigenous people; gay people);
  • Use of non-traditional art materials;
  • Use of appropriation; irony and parody in artmaking;
  • Awareness of the Conceptual Framework - the importance of the audience (a challenge to the idea of the ‘artist as hero’ or ‘artist as genius.’)
  • Scepticism about society and progress,
  • rather than optimism.


Julie Rrap (Aust., b. 1950 )Untitled (after Manet's 'Olympia') 2002,digital print on canvas 177 x 251 cm and cast bronze digital image (vuter technique)85 x 50 x 150cm


In the 1960s/70s Performance Art developed into a new artform. Instead of permanent art objects that could be bought and sold, the idea of an ephemeral event becoming the art itself became popular. This challenged the economics of the art market. (We have seen ephemeral art, which was recorded as a photograph, with Andy Goldsworthy.) Women were a big part of Performance Art, and ‘happenings’ as they were called in the U.S. Often women used their own bodies. This was a way of reclaiming the body from its use as a Nude in the Western art tradition. (Those nudes, we now know, were generally passive and regarded as ‘available’ to the viewer who was generally regarded as a white straight male.)

Yoko Ono (Japan, b. 1933) Cut Piece,

performance, 1965.


Cindy Sherman (U.S. b 1954) is a photographic artist who has used herself as a model for the past 30 years. She generally uses concepts or images from TV, film, photography and historical art and dresses herself up in various roles.

Her work is both Feminist and Postmodern – she challenges ideas about women or roles for women that we see in TV and film. She also questions gender, class and all kinds of assumptions we make about the appearance of people.

Untitled #216, 1989

Untitled #146, 1985


Challenging of all types of structures; traditions and beliefs.

We saw the challenging of previous traditions with the avant-garde in Modernism. The new movement always thought it had the better way to get to an authentic expression. With Postmodernism, there is not that sense of ‘we have the answer’. It is more a case of ‘there ARE no definite answers. No one path is correct.’ There is no one, single truth. Rather, there are many stories; many voices.

Feminist art practices, of which there are many varieties, are an example of this.

Jill Orr (Aust. n.d.) Bleeding trees 1, performance, 1979

Orr’s practice uses the female body (her own) to identify

with the natural environment. Her work is both Feminist and environmental. The idea of women being more connected to the earth, more in tune with it (than men) because of their reproductive cycle was a popular Feminist motif of the 1970s. This era also saw the rise of Goddess practices (where God, or the divine being, is seen as female rather than the more traditional idea of a Father-god.)


Julie Rrap (Aust., b. 1950 ) has been involved with performance art and “body art” from the 1970s onwards. (Her brother, Mike Parr, is also an artist.) Her work involves photography, painting, sculpture, video and installations. She is interested in the psychology behind how we view photographs and video. Her work is often fun but always raises questions. She often appropriates or references historical or earlier artworks.

Camouglage #3, (Elizabeth)

2000, digital photograph,

195 x 122cm

Overstepping, 2001, digital photograph, 120 x 120cm

Film still of Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet, 1945


Examining the Exam…

Q: Shahzia Sikander was born in 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan. She has achieved international recognition for her artistic practice. In 2007 her artwork Transformation as Narrative was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Explain how Shahzia Sikander uses different procedures in the

production and exhibition of her artwork Transformation as Narrative.

“Sikander carries a camera with her

daily, documenting her observations

which are frequently incorporated into

her work in some shape or form…”

– Rachel Kent, Curator.

Plate 1: A selection of Sikander’s

Preliminary drawings; photographs

And reference materials.


Plate 2: Gallery technicians assisting with the

Preparation of Sikander’s artwork Transformation

Narrative 2007 at MCA Sydney

Plate 3: Shahzia Sikander working on

Transformation as Narrative, 2007 at MCA

Sydney. Acrylic on wall, wall dimensions

686 x 1164cm.