"A woman watches her body uneasily, as though it were an unreliable ally in the battle for love" - Leonard Cohen.
My partner Ceni and I were given this quote at the beginning of the day to unpick. My initial thoughts were entirely about body image and how someone might perceive themselves from the use of the word "watches" giving a sense of obsession compared to the word "look" which suggests a quick glance rather than something constant. This being put alongside "uneasily" makes the reader question what could be so wrong with this woman's body? We decided to narrow down what we were looking at and rather than focusing on the whole quote, focus on the part that states her body was like an "unreliable ally in the battle for love". We decided on this section as it provoked some interesting questions such as:
How does a person make their body more "reliable"?
What is defined as a "reliable" body?
Why is love described as a "battle"?
Does this author possibly see women competing through their body image for love/attention?
We thought about our body being "reliable" meaning comfortable, and how we as people individually make ourselves feel comfortable within our own skin. First thoughts on this were cosmetics, hair gel, make up, creams, shaving/grooming products, surgery, haircuts, body mods such as tattoos or piercings. Everyone has done or uses one or two of these things to make themselves feel more comfortable and perhaps more presentable in their eyes. From this non-exhaustive list we decided to focus on women's make up cosmetics as a woman is the subject of the author's quote, and a woman's cosmetics are more visual.
We decided that putting make up onto someone's face, determining how they look linked to the quote whilst also being interactive, quick and fun to do. So we carried out a test of our idea in the classroom (video on moving image page). Having done this practice run, we realised that although the concept was strong, the response from participants may have been better if the images of the people weren't randomly selected from google and so we researched different people we could use eventually coming to the conclusion of using the poet himself - Leonard Cohen.
My group gained another member today just before we were about to go to our chosen public space to carry out our interaction. This meant we had to take time to explain our project to the third member but I felt this actually helped to cement what we were doing that day and what we were going to say to the public when it came to questions about our project etc. One of the tutors we had spoken to about our project suggested the interaction would be stronger if we made the faces into masks rather than just ask the public to draw on the floor or sketchpad. I loved this idea as I felt it was quite a funny gesture and might entice people to have a go at our activity.
We printed 20 copies of Leonard Cohen's face expecting to only end up using maximum 10 of them however to our surprise we filled all 20. This was definitely down to our choice of location, as if we had been in central London we would not have had as many people genuinely interested in what we were doing. We had a wide variety of people which I felt made the responses more diverse, for example: one lady was doing a fine art degree at csm and then the man after her had no experience of drawing or make up at all, however he knew quite a bit about the poet (Leonard Cohen) who's photo we had used on our masks.
On the day of the crit our groups most confident speaker had lost her voice, and so I was forced to do majority of the talking for our presentation. At first I was extremely nervous but as the presentation went on I grew more confident with what i was saying and I think this was because of the work and the videos (on the moving image page) that we had produced were strong enough that I didn't have to speak to much, but the explaining i did do i was confident with. We had positive feedback from the group