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Post-feminist fantasia

May 3, 2011

If you’re in east London this Thursday (5th May), head to PayneShurvell to see Diamonds and Toads, a piece by performance duo The Girls. Diamonds and Toads is based on the eponymous fairytale of two sisters, the elder proud and arrogant and the younger beautiful and courteous. In reflection of the younger sister’s true nature, a fairy bestows this sister the gift of producing objects of beauty from her lips when she speaks; the elder sister, by contrast, pours forth snakes, toads and other disgusting items whenever she utters a word.

In their performance, The Girls take on the roles of the two sisters, with masked faces that seem to signify the static falsity of such fairytales’ black and white morality. This stark opposition between the good and bad, the attempt to embody in physical form the abstract morality that fairytales profess to embody in literary form, sees The Girls passive, subdued, fixed in their positions among the slugs and the pearls, both of which present an equal burden to the corseted bodies breathing beneath.

This is set in the context of a self-consciously post-feminist exhibition, entitled I am a Fantasy and curated by Beverley Knowles. Here Margaret Harrison’s paintings and drawings, which the artist has been producing since the 1970s, speak of feminism’s persistent and multi-faceted legacy through their superimposition of the female body onto the male stereotype of superhero. Pop culture, cartoon and the history of art are the site, even the battleground, of gender definition and redefinition, and Harrison, much like The Girls, uses her work to unravel these types at their source, meanwhile highlighting the sutblety of their presence in wider arenas of cultural influence.

I am a Fantasy runs until 21st May at PayneShurvell, 16 Hewett Street, London EC2A 3NN.
Performances of Diamonds and Toads are on 5th May, 7-8pm, and 21st May, 2-3pm.

Celia White

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 5, 2011 10:50 am

    Thank you for the review, Celia/Edel!. Our tableau vivant ‘Diamonds and Toads’ will take place on tonight from 7pm-8pm, and Saturday 21 May 2011 at the amended time of 2pm-3pm.

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