This activity is intended to be held in classroom to help students develop an understanding of the performance of gender and to reclaim power over images through the process of appropriation and re-imagining.
With students, have a look at the images from Casey Legler Study. In the work the model Casey Legler is performing feminine and masculine movements and facial expressions. The masculine characteristics are those where Casey is looking directly towards the camera in an assertive way, whereas in the feminine performance Casey looks away taking on more submissive gestures. In both these modes Casey is performing gender and performing beauty. The artist Técha Noble is influenced by the writings of gender theorist Judith Butler who believes that these movements and facial expressions aren’t natural to our body but instead movements that are learned and that our bodies learn to inhabit.
In advertising these characteristics are accentuated. It is a forum where the language of gender as two separate and opposite types – masculine and feminine- are performed and made to be normative.
Use a range of magazines, particularly those that have images of high end advertising, perfume ads, clothing catalogues etc to explore the types of postures and facial expressions that express masculine or feminine.
Discuss these images with your students pointing out instances where the model is over accentuating a gender role.
Students cut out different parts of the models and images to create characters that inhabit a heightened model of gender, veering towards mythological characters.
Students should be encouraged to mix body parts and substitute body parts with other images. Repetition of features, odd sizes of components, unusual placement of objects as accessories should be encouraged.
Note to teachers:
It is important to stress the idea of the characters being created having a heightened performative outcome. Students might like to think about where their characters live, what they eat, who their friends are and what they like to do. Language used should emphasize playful, magical and mythological reinterpretations of images.
Collage allows students to have a right of response to consumer images. Teaching students the act of collage rather than censorship encourages a rethinking of media to be something that can be played with and used as a tool for further re-imaginings. The process of appropriation empowers the consumer to be producer utilising the images of everyday to create images and characters that extend our understanding of what is possible.