To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Royal Academy will be hosting a series of events, talks and screenings throughout the week.
During screenings this weekend, the themes of gender, identity and material were explored through films by alumni and current graduates. Over the next few days, a diverse range of talks and tours will investigate what it means to be a women in today’s society, and how women have previously been portrayed in art across the world. Highlights include the ‘Gendered Materials’ talk that will pose questions such as ‘what is the relationship between gender and materials in art practice?’ and ‘how do materials and scale used in art practice help to define gender?’
Discover the whole programme of events here.
Allen Jones knows how to sell sex. Since he first exhibited his fibreglass women in the late 1960s – the prototype fembot, down on all fours, arse practically over head, strapped into bondage gear – he’s owned it. They were – are – the literal representation of sex-on-legs. And who’d have thought that the place to get a little artistic perversion in London these days would be at the Royal Academy?
It’s clear that Jones’ coterie of fetishised furniture sculptures represents a very specific sort of fantasy. It’s everyman erotica; pert tits, big lips, hard-bodied, submissive, available. Serving you cocktails, ready to take your hat. They’re expensive whores on all fours. Yet, even as a feminist, you have to relish in how aggressively politically uncorrect it all is. Jones makes incredibly, obviously, seductive art. And you might feel a bit grubby about it afterwards, but then we’ve all been there, right?
Jones’ paintings provide a little counter balance to the implied misogyny of his sculptures. In these colourfully kitsch scenes he paints about power-play with cross-dressing inferences, of the dominate female, the submissive male, of the animalistic rituals of mating and the delicate interplay of coupling represented in the form of dance. It’s the paintings and later sculptures that suggest a much more complex side to Jones than the ones his critics would have you believe. To reduce Jones to a fetish artist, means you ignore a lot of the richness and ambiguity in his work. And it’s this that makes you want to go back and take a second look at the sculptures – maybe it’s not all about oppression and submission, maybe there’s something deeper at play? Maybe it’s not a male-female thing after all. Maybe she’s in control. Hell, maybe she’s even enjoying herself. Imagine that.
Allen Jones RA is at the Royal Academy, London until 25th January 2015
IMAGE CREDIT: Allen Jones RA, Body Armour, 2013 Photograph, 127 x 127 cm London, Private Collection / Image courtesy of the artist © Allen Jones