Friday, November 2, 2012

Student Reactions to Fertile Crescent Exhibition Work

Both students participated through Professor Paul Blaney's Creative Non Fiction Writing Class at Rutgers University

In response to Laila Shawa’s Disposable Bodies

By Elizabeth Kearns 

Walking around the exhibit, most of the artwork directly interacts with the audience. As I turn into one room I see two female bodies and although they are quieter pieces of work, they speak loudly. My eyes look past the fact that the bodies are headless, armless and legless. Instead I am fixated on the weapons. I focus on the one body; it has a simple yet elegant floral pattern that is enclosed by chains.

The top of her body is very bare, only patterned in floral. Her lower half is covered in black chains and a bright red grenade hangs near her crotch. From her back you see a small bright red heart lock with all the numbers turned to zero, or are they eyes? The longer I am with the piece the more my discomfort thickens. At first I imagine that this woman is trapped due to her gender. The piercing red symbolizes energy and desire that she holds within her heart. It does not matter that the woman has no arms or legs because she will always be powerless. She has no head because a woman may not think. For now I see the heart as a symbol of her unlocking her own desires. To unlock her heart would mean freedom, but when the chain is free, the grenade will explode. This grenade is society and her family. Would they ever approve of her true self?

After reading the text, the body takes on a new meaning. I still feel the sense of the chains weighing down on her. The grenade is strategically placed near her gentile and hides her gender. She is no longer a woman, but a suicide bomber. The numbers on the small heart are in fact eyes that are watching her. The pressure to make her country proud overpowers her true heart. I consider how the chains are small and flimsy. Although this woman could easily break them and stop her suicide, she does not, because of this power. No longer is she a woman. She has for once become the dominant role in her society. In these few moments before taking her own life, she has moved beyond her role of beauty (floral prints) and beyond her sexuality (and main reason as a woman). She feels powerful, but it is that power that traps her.

In response to Ebru Özseçen's Jawbreaker

"I love Exotic Women"
 By Amanda Pickens

The woman before me fervently rubs the round white ball between her lips and savors the sharp sweetness of its surface. It glistens with hedonism and saliva. Her olive shoulders are naked save for a curtain of long brown hair. She fixes her gaze upon me and fastens me to the floor. Part of me wants to leave but her eyes exude this perfect mixture of directness and manipulation that makes me stay. I’ve become a willing prisoner of her world.

I see the hungry faces of men and women slowly appear from the dark corners of the room. Their eyes roam my body; they lick their lips, and whisper into empty space between us. “What are you?” Their voices are flooded with curiosity. It’s just an innocent question, right? It’s just an innocuous touch. Awe-struck eyes and slow-moving hands reach out to touch my hair. “I love exotic women,” they say with too much enthusiasm. I flinch at their touch and feel 20 years’ worth of anger swelling in my stomach. “Why are you angry?” they say, “it was just a compliment.”

Her lips press against the milky ball like a vacuum and slowly strip off layers of candy. She pauses and pops the entire ball into her mouth making hugging motions with her lips. Squeeze and release. Squeeze and release. You are tired of being treated like “exotic” playthings. You are not their canvases. You do not owe them explanations, favors, or lessons. I say these things with my eyes and send a knowing smile her way. She returns a quick smile of understanding and sadness before squeezing the milky white ball with her lips.

No comments:

Post a Comment