My lamp project confronts the conviction that our society is now ‘post feminist’ by drawing uncanny similarities between the domesticated 1950’s housewife and the contemporary middle class woman. What integrates these two groups is DIY (do it yourself crafts), an activity that encourages women’s relegation to the home. The phrase ‘post feminist’ suggests that the second wave movement in the 1970’s has run its course, and even worse, that inequality no longer exists between the sexes. While the feminists during this era made great strides for women’s equality with men, the happy homemaker Betty Freidan extensively critiqued 40 years ago is still propagated in a variety of permutations in contemporary culture. If the feminine mystique is gone, fully dissipated, if Freidan revealed all the facts clearly and we truly live in a post feminist society, then how can we come to terms with the unchanging facts: that women continue to do most of the purchasing in America for the household, that women are still continually fascinated by if not urged to devote attention to home renovation and decor improvements, and that statistically women still do the majority of childcare and household chores. Has the mystique really disappeared or are we just purchasing the same stuff, but in different packaging?
For each lamp, I designed the fabric for the lampshades, consumed the alcohol in the bottle, and constructed each lamp. Taking my cue from Pop art, these lamps take simple, iconic forms that reference 1950’s imagery and re contextualizes them to subvert the original intention of DIY. The lamps aggressive nature inflates what DIY tends to sublimate. That is, the lamps allow for a rage that is covered in the superficial beauty of domestic comfort. While constructing each lamp, I imagine the narrative of a frustrated woman, engaging in her DIY projects, attempting to find expression and a sense of creativity while her work only seeks a function in the home. The lamps show the frustration of such a vacuum and the aggression from this women-isolated in the middle of America, her only real expression resting on the purchases made at the local craft store earlier that day. Her husband is presumably out hunting, golfing, and then having a beer with the guys to unwind. All while she makes her art and drinks her booze in the solitary confinement. The lamps are pathological, just like the ‘adjusted’ ‘happy’ woman contained in her home.