Manicured almond nails. Diamonds glinting in the turn of the light. Slicked pin curls. Spaghetti coiling into a lipsticked mouth from on high…
For Fowler’s recent solo exhibition at the Cob Gallery ‘ While I’m Still Warm’ she created the new original work ‘ Every Girl Crazy’, which depicts Marilyn Monre, Bette Davis, Jayne Mansfield and Marlene Dietrich, Nina Fowler Print is delighted to announce the launch of a limited edition print of this work.
To coincide with the exhibition art theorist Charlotte Martin wrote a small text about ‘ Every Girl Crazy’, here is an extract:
Fowler has again created a subversive montage, snagging on our expected depiction of these icons. Her oeuvre is littered with explorations of the overlap between the public and private spheres and what the navigations of these realms by celebrity and fan alike can reveal of our cultural story.
Body and food are inseparable from this merging of public and private, so loaded with political and social meaning and gender connotations. Food is almost as much a state of mind as it is a physical entity.
It could be asked whether ‘Every Girl Crazy’ is a work of cruelty. These women went to gargantuan efforts over their physical appearance and to ensure their physicality matched with the public persona they wanted to project; as Marlene herself said “glamour is assurance”. Thin bodies demarcate ambition, moral value and sexual desirability in the minds of the public. Is Fowler cruelly cementing and enlarging images of these stars that they would want banished from view permanently? While there is little doubt that Monroe, Davis, Mansfield and Dietrich would not celebrate these images, With Fowler as the host of this dinner party, this is in fact a work of vulnerability, the host scratching at the titanium of stardom. As ever it is these glimpses of vulnerability that Fowler seeks to extract, glimpses of honesty and of truth.
Bingeing is a predominately female activity, perceived as a character defect, an inability to restrain oneself. However, rather than an inadequacy, bingeing is in fact a rage, a rallying cry against the painful and conflicting narratives of the female experience. A ritualistic rejection of gender expectations.
Women and food form an infinitely complex and intricate web, the source of novels, essays, hours and hours of conversation, and yet Fowler’s ever deft use of drawing has crystallised these novels and analysis, with trailing strands left for the viewer to selectively tug at.
To look at this drawing, I am reminded of John Berger’s words from Ways of Seeing, “Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” Fowler’s inimitable dinner guests have powerfully, and defiantly smashed this lens of the male gaze that Berger so succinctly encapsulates.
They are resplendent in their entitlement to eat, and I for one would like a seat at the table.
Charlotte Martin, 2017