I would like to introduce you to the feminist artist Margaret Harrison, who is known for her illustrations in which she feminized iconic comic book characters, and who expresses her struggle against the insidious impositions of society through her art.
British-based artist Margaret Harrison, who produces with the motto “Art should be political”, includes feminist elements in her art. One of the pioneers of the second-wave feminist movement, Harrison illustrates the forms of domination that exist in the home, popular culture, and professional life with her drawings.
Through her works, she tries to make visible the gender-based violence against women, their bodies, and lives, with the motto “The personal is political”. She humorously challenges gender stereotypes and especially the power structures imposed by the media.
Harrison’s repainting of popular culture superheroes such as Superman, Batman or Captain America using intense colors with big breasts, heels, and suspenders drew a strong reaction in a world order dominated by a stereotypical ideal of masculinity.
Among the installations she drew, she got the most reaction with her Bunny Boy drawing, in which she turned Hugh Hefner, the creator of the Playboy Bunny icon, which positions women as the object of desire of men, into a cartoon character. She had an intolerable effect on her supporters when she overturned the gender norms attributed to women through the founder of this profit-taking magazine, which mostly serves male readers and is based on the exploitation of young women’s bodies. So much so that Harrison’s first exhibition, which includes these drawings that upset the normal, was closed on the grounds of “aggression”.
The artist, who heavily and shockingly reverses gender-based living and perceptions manifested in every layer of society, reveals not only gender roles, but also sociological crises such as domestic violence, women’s invisible domestic labor, income inequality, and class struggle.
Harrison’s work Beautiful Ugly Violence, designed to raise public awareness of domestic violence; consists of a series representing various objects such as knives, kettles, guns, hammers, scissors, pots, and pans. Her painting of a heavy theme such as violence, in contrast, with plain and harmless drawings, can be seen as a strategy she employs in her art.
The masculine policies that dominate the world continue to ignore violence against women and their rights. Despite the normative patterns, pressures, and impositions that the capitalist social order integrates without us noticing, the struggle of Margaret Harrison and many other women over their existence in all areas of life will continue.
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About Margaret Harrison!
Harrison was one of the founders of the Women’s Liberation Art Group in 1970. She explores gender identity and stereotyping as well as broader issues affecting women such as equal pay, homeworkers’ rights, domestic abuse, and rape. In these works, the artist uses humor to explore male preoccupations, the way the media portrays women, and pop art. Harrison describes them as ‘anti-pornographic’ because they were drawn by a woman. They were first shown in a solo exhibition in 1971 that was closed by police after one day for being ‘indecent.