Feminism is the word on everybody’s lips. Take a break from the Paris shows and get to Linder Sterling’s startling ‘Femme/Objet’ exhibition at Musée d’Art Moderne.
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“Anatomy is not Destiny” says a neon light on one of the bright orange walls in post-punk artist Linder Sterling’s exhibition. It’s a motto that could connect all of her works, from the mid-1970′s to present day, denouncing the over sexualisation of women in society and the media.
Since 1976, Linder Sterling has worked with various forms of expression, from photography to photomontage, costume, video, music and performance. Inspired by Dadaism and Punk, Sterling started working in Manchester in the seventies. She found fame with her photos of Morrissey and the Buzzcocks’ Orgasm Addict cover image of a woman’s body with lips for breasts and an iron for a head. The representation of women in her collages is typically drawn from two distinct piles of magazines: women’s magazines – fashion and romance – and men’s magazines – automobile and pornographic.
A feminist and a rebel, Sterling uses classic pornographic images and over-sexualised ad photos in an oblique way, mixing them with absurd pictures of everyday life objects. Cakes and vacuum cleaners are pasted onto erotic fashion images, in order to picture women as simple commercial objects, used to sell sexual fantasies the same way they’re used to sell “enslaving” domestic objects. Oversized mouths and lips are also a prominent part of her work; on her 2009 i-D cover with Tim Walker for The Insi-De Outsi-De Issue, Sterling pasted enormous pink lips and a flower on the photograph. “Women have more than one pair of lips”, she explains on the exhibition walls.
The set up of the show complements Sterling’s work too; the artist’s quotations hang on the walls as neons, the stair walls are covered with identical photos of a woman with huge bright red lips, and transparent curtains guide you through. The gallery space itself rebels against the everyday acceptance of sexuality, hiding the aggressively sexual and sometimes violent imagery behind veils. The visitor is invited to view the images from behind the curtain first, approaching the brutality and nudity of the collages at his or her will, unlike advertisements where it is imposed.
‘Linder Sterling Femme/ Objet runs until 21st April 2013 at Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris.
Text: Léa Taleb
Artwork from top: ‘Sans titre’ 1979 ©Linder; ‘Oh grateful colours, bright looks VI’ 2009 ©Linder Collage sur photo de Tim Walker for i-D’s The insi-De outsi-De Issue; ‘Sans titre’ 2009 ©Linder; ‘Sans titre’ 1981 ©Linder; ‘Rose Diorlywood’ 2008 ©Linder; Vue de l’exposition Linder, Femme/ Objet au Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013 Photographe Pierre Antoine; ‘Sans titre’ 1977 ©Linder; ‘Sans titre’ 1976 ©Linder.