we speak to the anti-agency x girls only artists about why, when it comes to making art, being a girl should no longer matter
Last week we broke the news about one of the most exciting art collaborations of the season, as riot grrrl art collective and transatlantic curatorial body Girls Only teamed up with the supercool Anti-Agency in a one off exhibition.
Challenging accepted notions of beauty while deconstructing societal definitions of gender, sexual preference and identity, works featured included photos from blue-haired babe Arvida Byström and portraits by dreamy photographer Bella Howard. Fresh from their exhibit, we caught up with some of the artists to talk about Emily Dickinson, Grayson Perry and why, when it comes to making art, being a girl should no longer matter.
When did you first become interested in art?
Arvida Byström: I used to love to paint when I was a kid.
Chiara Mottironi: From as early as I can remember. My parents and aunt would constantly buy me art books and paper - every supply under the sun and it just took off from there. I've never looked back since.
Amy Blakemore: When I was about fifteen. It seemed like a good way to impress people.
How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
Nichole Fitch: Synesthesia, sequences, patterns and colours.
How does your work examine notions of gender and identity?
Chiara: A lot of my work has revolved around the theme of identity. It tends to be quite personal since I've found that a lot of my ideas come from a specific experience but it can also be an exploration into someone else's life.
Amy: Poetry, even on the page, is performative - in that you're building a voice and a narrative and putting it out there. In that sense it's all about identity for me. When it comes to gender, I suppose I'm interested in playing with the idea of "women's poetry" as soppy, hysterical, driven by nebulous feelings.
Nichole: Sexuality and being a woman is definitely the most important part of my work. There is a very strong connection between my personal identity - my vintage style, the way I look, my experiences as a woman - and what I paint. What I am showing in this exhibition is about the deconstruction of youth and beauty shown through the process of taking a "selfie," painting a portrait from it, taking a photograph of that painting and working it through various filters and editing apps (that usually make a person more beautiful but I am deconstructing that notion) and then printing the result and placing the painting on top so the circle is complete.
What do you hope to achieve with your work?
Chiara: To be able to make others feel a connection to my imagery whether its because it takes them back to a certain place or just because they love the colours. I want people to fall in love with art.
Nichole: I hope, above all, that it is aesthetically pleasing and people are drawn to my work and once that captivation occurs people will want to see more of my work. It should not just be viewed as a feminist work and my opinion is inferior to the views and opinions the viewers have - of which I hope there are many.
Amy: To make people less bored and less boring.
Which artist excites or has excited you the most and why?
Arvida: All the babes on Tumblr excite me all the time.
Chiara: Kalen Hollomon's work is just insane! He creates these over the top collages that depict the changing relationship between subject and object. The way he manages to create everyday moments into these slightly unsettling but romantic images is just brilliant.
Amy: Morrissey and Emily Dickinson for making art out of being lonely and weird.
Nichole: Grayson Perry - I think he's one of the best artists alive right now. He has this ability to comment on serious, dark issues of gender and social class in a very playful way.
You're being featured in a Girls Only exhibition, but should being a girl actually matter when it comes to making art?
Arvida: It surely shouldn't but people told me I only get exposure cuz I'm a pretty girl. Can't say that's all of the picture but it clearly helps.
Chiara: No way! I think in today's society there are so many talented female artists that are constantly emerging and just doing their thing that it doesn't feel like such an issue now. It makes me so happy to see other females getting the recognition and attention they deserve for their work.
What's the best thing about being a girl in 2014?
Amy: The possibility of revenge.
Nichole: That nipples are being freed!
Text Tish Weinstock
Images Nichole Fitch, Why hangover when you can hang on?, 2014 and Chiara Mottironi, Maura, 2014