FIRST PROJECT OF THE YEAR! (Not including the summer project.)
So from the Introduction to Political Prints session that we had, we were given the task of producing our own political prints.
Here was our task debrief;
Art has had a troubled relationship with propaganda, which is frequently seen as overly didactic.
The history of print as a medium is often associated with radical politics. From the Russian constructivists to the art students of May ’68, to contemporary protest posters from many artists in countries around the world, artists have used print to create quick and bold statements, to combine images and text.
Using stencil printing, we would like you to produce an image that functions as a piece of propaganda in response to the challenges we face today in our societies and in our cultures. Consider the relationship between the imagery you use and the concepts you are exploring and think about what issues you would like your 2016 student revolt to address!
Source: Task debrief – Reading University Blackboard Learn
There are a lot of things that I feel passionate about and that I could do my stencil printing on, including the topics of; endangered animals, brexit, the American elections, sexism and feminism. But after a few hours of having a sit down, think, and a doodle (what else are you supposed to do?), I came across the quote
Can you see me now?
This led me to looking at the topic that was raised a few months back;
Free the nipple
When this hit the news, I felt incredibly passionate about the topic. My take on the subject was all about the women who were breastfeeding their babies in public. This is in no way, shape or form, is a sexual act, unlike how some men and reports I found were showing this. It is a simple act of the human body to want and need food, including those babies who still need fresh milk from their mothers. It did, however, become a fashion statement very quickly. This personally annoyed me as many of the articles reporting the ‘#freetheboob’ movement, were commenting on how uncomfortable bras were and how it is just commercialism that is making us buy bras. How ‘Free the Nipple’ became summer’s biggest fashion trend – EveningStandard. Yes, it has been scientifically studied as to whether women need to wear bras or not, and apparently we don’t, (Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Bra, According To Science – IFLScience) but that doesn’t mean we need a hashtag and a fashion trend about it, especially when it draws it away from the Free the Nipple campaign, which is very different.
I did not know this, but Free the Nipple is a lot bigger than just the whole breastfeeding in public taboo. The Free the Nipple campaign has been described as
…a global campaign of change, focused on the equality, empowerment, and freedom of all human beings. Free the nipple has become a premiere voice for gender equality, utilizing all forms of modern media, to raise awareness and effect change on various social issues, and injustices.
Looking closer and at more detail of what the Free the Nipple campaign truly stood for, I was inspired to create my own piece of propaganda to support the campaign. I couldn’t exactly just whip off my shirt to reveal no bra to show my point, like hundreds of men and women did on Brighton Beach to protest against the social media policies banning on the female nipples.
‘Free The Nipple’: Hundreds Gather In Topless Protest On Brighton Beach – Huffington Post
I could, however, create a stencil printing, using my new found information on the Free the Nipple campaign, and the quote that inspired all of this; Can you see me now? I did have to take a moment to figure out what I could do inn order to get my point across – the female, and the male nipples, are something that we should not be ashamed of and that we should not hide. It should not be a taboo.
I therefore created the following design whereupon the nipple and the boob that are uncovered are the centre of attention, being the focal point of the print.
I initially couldn’t decide on whether I wanted this design, or to invert it and print where the majority of the page was black, showing a white boob and a black nipple. However, I soon realised that this could not be done as there would be multiple areas of the print that were not connected, hence I went for this design.
I also changed the composition of the wording several times. The consistent parts were the bra itself, the O, U and nipple. Initially, the ‘o’ of the ‘now’ was smaller, as to represent the other nipple. I did change this as it looked, to me, out of place, so I changed it to the now, larger ‘O’. I also changed the composition of the ‘y’ as originally it was vertical. The reason for this change was due to it being more aesthetically pleasing, but looking back, it now also follows the curvature of the breast which accentuates both the breast and the nipple.
The screen printing itself was interesting.. I have done screen printing before, however the screen printing ink has never stained this much! A tiny bit on my hands and it stayed there for days. As per usual, some of the prints were absolutely atrocious and barely legible, however there were a couple of them which were crisp and defined!
Our exhibition isn’t fully up yet, but will be open on Thursday afternoon, so more photos and updates soon!