Which Side Are You On Now?
Tell Me, Which Side Are You On?
Guest Artist Janice Ledgerwood
January 4 through January 27, 2024
Opening ArtHop Reception:
Thursday, January 4, 5 PM — 8 PM
I have worked for several years with the Campus Cuties figurines. Campus Cuties, as named and produced by Marx Toys in the mid-20th century, are two series of six-inch figurines of women in contemporary clothing from that time. Each series has eight figurines. They have gone through many incarnations in the time I have been making art with them. Previously, Campus Cuties have been exhibited as trophies, chocolates in boxes, action figures, drawings, and 3D prints and 3D printed assemblages.
Campus Cuties are transmutable vessels for the exploration of systemic gender, racial, social, and economic inequities. In one of their last manifestations, the Trophy Wives Prep Program explored how some women
collaborate with a system that oppresses the Other. However, that same system will eventually subjugate the same women trying to maintain their privilege and status. Proximity to power is not power.
Which Side Are You On? was conceived during the former president’s tenure in office and before Covid shut the world down. While Covid is becoming an endemic, seasonal illness, a clear and present danger to the stability of our country and our democracy persists. I began thinking about this threat, this continued collaboration, the desire of some to burn down our democracy and institute an authoritarian, or worse, a fascist leaning government. From these musings, drawing from art history, specifically the Erechtheion, and my own lived experience, my installation idea was born.
The Caryatids serve as architectural supports for the physical structure of the Erechtheion Temple, which is part of the Greek Acropolis in Athens, the birthplace of democracy. The Caryatids are perhaps symbolic of how women
are embedded so deeply in our patriarchal culture that they support and defend the culture even when it oppresses them. Indeed, democracy has the tendency to support its own cultural standards and norms using persuasive rhetoric, foundational mythologies, and the anticipated and often deliberate promulgation of ignorance so that the dominant class can maintain its privilege for some, while othering and oppressing the many.
In this way, the Campus Cuties have come to carry a similar meaning in their latest incarnation as candles on Greek columns. Fire is transmutable. It both destroys and encourages growth. As the candles melt, are we witnessing the demise or rebirth of democracy?
Which side are you on, now? Tell me, which side are you on?