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From Ballrooms to Brothels, 2001

Series of 6 mixed media paintings: heat transfer, embroidery, oil on wedding fabrics and Chinese tapestries, decorative architectural mouldings

40” x 40” each, hung on 80” x 80” painted square

Exhibition: Galería de la Escuela nacional de pintura, escultura y grabado, Mexico City

 

Titles:

1. Geisha with Instrument for Operations on the Brain and Spinal Cord

2. Geisha with Gag, Airway, and Tongue Forceps                                       

3. Geisha with Bone Shears

4. Geisha with Surgical Saws              

5. Geisha with Hair Colour Bottle    

6. Geisha with Tiara Instructions     

     

Described as a ‘century-old professional entertainer’, geisha would offer their services in the higher classes exclusively. They were trained in the traditional arts in order to be professional hostesses. East and west court one another in these pieces: geishas taken from popular print media such as calendars and postcards are transferred to exuberant fabrics. They caress and proffer nineteenth-century medical instruments once used for brain and trachea surgery. These surgical instruments are implicit references to the then patriarchal medical profession. Floating around the geishas are various symbols, some embroidered some painted, that one associates with the role of the western girlfriend, fiancée, and wife: high heels, lipstick, hair colour, etc. By grouping incongruent objects, I try to create a new narrative in which the power of the patriarchal system is subverted: given the improbable juxtaposition and association of the geisha, the spectator is forced to re-read not only their meaning, but also the role of the western wife.