Margaret Harrison: Questioning the Idea of Fixed Sexuality

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 07:49
Submitted by Carlin Ross

Right when Betty was exiting the art world following the obscenity hearing over the publication of her work in Evergreen magazine and the shock over her Masturbating Nudes exhibition Margaret Harrison was experiencing the same backlash in the UK.   

In April 1971, the police closed down London's first overtly one-woman feminist art show after just one day, on the grounds of indecency. The police objected to the portrayal of men in Harrison's work as demeaning. There was Hugh Hefner squeezed into a bunny girl costume, a beefy but emasculated Captain America wearing false breasts and a stars 'n' stripes-patterned basque, and Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist who tried to murder Andy Warhol, stamping on his Brillo box artwork.

These images, says Harrison, "questioned the idea of having a fixed sexuality". She has previously said the police "were reacting as males to the notion that there were other manifestations of sexuality than the strictly heterosexual variety, and that was threatening".

There's a new exhibition of her work, I Am A Fantasy. I've been thinking of mounting an exhibition of Betty's art. It seems that feminist artists are finally in vogue. I would love to interview Margaret about how it feels to have your art rejected - how it feels to be so ahead of the curve that the police show up at your exhibition and shut it down.

Betty, maybe the art world is ready for feminist art...maybe the art world is ready to question fixed sexuality.

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Great Post Carlin!

Betty Dodson's picture
Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:22

I love this woman's vision. Does she still live in the UK? If so, we could do a phone interview with her. As for exhibiting my art, we are. It's on the website for all interested people to see. When it comes to the gallery world, well you know how I much I disregard them. But I'm old enough now to have a more open mind. Let's see. . . .

What a rediculous reason to

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 12:50

What a rediculous reason to shut down an exhibition. That was 1971. No era is perfect but how much nicer it is to live in the 21 century.

Jake, I don't know which 21st

Betty Dodson's picture
Wed, 04/13/2011 - 17:15

Jake, I don't know which 21st Century you're living in but the one I experience today makes the 70's look like a time of sexual freedom! In case you haven't noticed, we have been going backwards in many aspects of sexual expression. Just because the Internet gives us access to more sexual information and porn, doesn't mean that peoples actual sexlives have improved. 

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