(Dear reader - here it goes! I'm giving the Art+Culture's blogging interface a test drive, and I'm starting with a little piece I wrote earlier. Let the sparks fly. Enjoy!)
For the closing event of The Québec Triennial at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the performance art group Women With Kitchen Appliances (WWKA) put on a half hour show on Sunday afternoon.
About 25 women, all dressed in identical grey tunics, donning yellow dishwashing gloves, wigs, and pink lipstick, lined up behind a long table laden with egg slicers, wine glasses, blenders, and every other kitchen utensil you can think of. Each woman picked up an appliance and started to pluck and jangle, scratch and rattle, all the while expressing the most vacant look on their faces, bordering on catatonic. The play was mostly improvised, with some choreographed elements. The beginning of the performance produced a sound-scape that could be best described as “orgasmic frog in a junkyard”, slowly swelling to “construction on St-Laurent Street during a thunderstorm”, until the performance culminated in “zombies on a sugar-rush welding a submarine”. I liked the last bit best, because sparks literally flew as WWKA members abused their electric blenders with sharp metal objects.
Which brings us to the question: what does it all mean? Why the 1950s stylings, why the automaton-like bearing? Is the performance meant to be a feminist statement or is it pure whimsy? According to the text accompanying the WWKA exhibit in the museum, the group sees the “kitchen as a mythical, updated place of expression for the female gender” while the “ostensibly personal (actually largely generic) dimension of their critical interventions is designed to arouse discussion and reflection”.
And that’s my personal sticking point. I think WWKA’s approach is out-dated. The kitchen is no longer the sole domain of the good housewife, plenty of women work and know how to order a pizza on the phone. I don’t feel particularly repressed by society, and I spend rather more time in front of the computer than in front of the oven. I don’t feel as though womenkind is stuck in the 50s.
But then, that may be because my husband does most of the cooking.
More about Women With Kitchen Appliances on their blog.