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F*CK U! In The Most Loving Way

Exhibition catalog for "F*CK U! In The Most Loving Way" created by the Northern California Women's Caucus for Art.

during its process of

during its process of choosing the exhibition’s title. I was aware of the concepts of “affective labor” and “emotional labor” having seen the Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild speak in May 2016 at the Oakland Book Fair. I had read Hochschild’s 1989 book with Anne Machung, The Second Shift, in which Hochschild demonstrates that women continue to be burdened more with “second shifts,” i.e., domestic labor, after their “official” workdays are done. Moreover, as Hochschild has pointed out, despite all advances towards gender equality women remain the primary caretakers of their homes. 14 Previously in her 1983 book The Managed Heart Hochschild examined how women are responsible for their families’ private emotional management home once they return home after performing “emotional labor” at work, i.e., smiling and acting upbeat to create positive emotional experiences for others. Such immaterial labor, Hochschild argues, comes at a psychological cost. 15 Inklings of that cost can be discerned in many of the works exhibited throughout F*ck U! In the Most Loving Way. Featured Art in “Revisiting Womanhouse” Within “Revisiting Womanhouse” featured artworks were exhibited along with a small number of artworks by the national artists selected by the juror, Shannon Rose Riley. Installation curator Karen Gutfreund selected the juried works that were exhibited in “Revisiting Womanhouse.” Featured artist Nancy Youdelman’s three works exhibited in the “Revisiting Womanhouse” space were literally and figuratively, brilliant. Indeed, her works were strategically placed to catch the eyes of gallery visitors as they entered the space. I selected Youdelman’s coat-shaped sculpture, She Made It Herself (2005) as it immediately reminded me of one of Hillary Clinton’s signature coat jackets. I was not alone in anticipating incorrectly during the summer of 2016 that Mrs. Clinton would be elected the first women American President a month before the F*ck U! In the Most Loving Way’s opening. She Made It Herself was created by the artist as a tribute to her mother, a seamstress, and embedded in the work are sewing tools such as safety pins and buttons. Photographs of Youdelman’s mother highlight the works interplay between personal, familial, social, and universal histories. She Made it Herself celebrates the multiple “hats” her mother wore during her life, which made the piece very “fitting” for “Revisiting Womanhouse.” In the context of the exhibition, its apt title underscores the importance of acknowledging the labor of working mothers. Youdelman generously offered to exhibit two more works, Speaking in Colors (2015) and Ice Warrior (2015), both of which address gender identity and childhood. Speaking in Colors, with its carefully arranged discarded costume jewelry, suggests alternatives to impulsive (and often hurtful) communication. For those of us of a certain age, it is nearly impossible to view Ice Warrior and not immediately be reminded of Xena, the warrior princess of the popular 1990s television series of the same name. The ….. 34

ejeweled doll appears ready for combat. With her defensive stance, Ice Warrior is both resilient and resplendent in her dazzling self-care. Ice Warrior’s gestures of self-defense and self-care parallels those of the featured artists whose respective artworks were displayed in the main gallery: Ester Hernandez’s humorous assemblage El Palote (The Rolling Pin) (2016), Violet Overn’s photographs #2 and #5 (2016), and Emma Sulkowicz’s Newspaper Bodies (Look Mom, I’m on the Front Page!) series (2015). Each artist’s unique response to possible and actual threats of domestic and sexual aggression, abuse, and violence within typical domestic spaces, such as the kitchen, as well as college “home away from home” spaces, such as the fraternity house and the dorm room, is a revelation as well as a testimony to women’s strength, creativity, and resilience. What is interesting is that all these works in very different ways attest to the fact that domestic spaces are not always safe spaces. Youdelman was not the only featured artist who showcased children’s clothing and toys such as dolls. Indeed, the importance of childhood domesticity for gender identity emerged as a central theme throughout F*ck U! In the Most Loving Way. A striking example is Plastic Bodies (2003), Sheila Pree Bright’s digitally manipulated photograph of a hybrid Barbie calls attention to the challenges of identity formation for young African American girls. We were honored to include featured artist Karen LeCocq’s iconic Feather Cunt (1971, remade 1996) pillow, which added to a sense of comfort, sensuality, and eroticism to the space. We converted a metal file cabinet into a display table for Rokudenashiko’s numerous artworks and artifacts, some of which were placed on top of kitschy pink and red heart-shaped paper doilies that I managed to find at a neighborhood dollar store. Aside from Vagina Cellphone Covers, Rokudenashiko has transformed her plastic vagina mold (one of which was also on display) to create other utilitarian objects, ranging from a whimsical Insect Cage Manko (2012) to toys, such as her Remote-Controlled Gundaman (2012). Rokudenashiko’s 2016 graphic novel about her arrests and trials in Japan, What Is Obscenity: The Story of a Good for Nothing Artist and Her Pussy, was also displayed, as were her Free Manko pins, which were available for sale. Her so-called “pussy art,” which we had been a bit concerned would be considered a bit frivolous, gained unexpected and new political significance after Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” remarks that were released by The Washington Post on October 8, 2016. Rokudenashiko’s The Buddha Manko (2012) offers meditative contemplation as well as peaceful resistance within ongoing gender wars. Situated in a staged domestic space, The Buddha Manko reminds the visitor of the importance of finding a place for peace, meditation and contemplation in the home despite our busy—and at times, chaotic—lives. Such ideas are hard to achieve, particularly for working woman artists who are also mothers. 35