FEMINIST FANS | ANDREA BOWERS
Trust women, feminists are just women who don’t want to be treated like shit, they stand to exist, hear me roar, women don’t owe you shit, gender is a universe and you are all stars.
These, like other phrases, are part of the operation created by the American artist Andrea Bowers which consists of a variable installation in which 114 fans are arranged in the space that the artist has painted and “costumed” with the use of paint spray imprinting a series of slogans referring to the context of gender identity and women’s rights.
The American artist and activist has been working for years in the context of art to fight for gender equality and for the full recognition of women’s rights, siding with her works against misogynistic, racist and homophobic positions. Famminist Fans is part of his practice with a very punctual positioning but which also leaves room for an ironic attitude. The phrases that the artist has imprinted on the fans, almost like a souvenir shop in a big city, are slogans which despite the appearance, offer reflections on the present condition of women and their role within society. Dead men don’t grab pussy and other more or less colloquial messages become the tool with which to overturn an instrument, the fan, connoted as an example of feminine affectation in a weapon to fight with.
It is no coincidence that in oriental cultures the fan is used as a combat weapon: Andrea Bowers makes this tradition and her fans her own (the pun in English could be a reference to the importance of a community that distinguishes feminist activist movements, maintaining the ironic gaze that distinguishes the artist’s practice) show themselves as self-affirmation of a clear political position and which fearlessly recriminates the protection of a condition that still today presents extremely delicate circumstances.
The gaze then passes from one fan to another, from the tropical font with the palm trees hinted at in the background, to a more captivating font positioned on flames: by reconstructing this boutique of statements, the visitor hears its protest, it is then up to him to decide whether to welcome it, throwing a bridge between artistic experience and political commitment. Bowers, using the lettering, the installation and the unusual use of everyday objects, astounds for his punctuality and the strength of his positioning. Feminist Fans strikes fearlessly like a blade.
Feminist Fans (detail), 2018
Spay paint on fabric fans
Variable dimentions, 114 fans
Courtesy of the artist and Kaufmann repetto Milan/New York © Photo: Andrea Rossetti
Inside the exhibition Furla Series – Andrea Bowers. Moving Space Without Asking Permission, 2022, promoted by Fondazione Furla and GAM – Galleria d’Arte Moderna Milano