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Combining both artistic and athletic backgrounds, the works featured in this show illustrate a criticism of American society’s obsession with the paradisiacal notion of “perfection.” The title “Flawless Slaves” describes such a notion, as the term ‘flawless’ induces the idea of perfection; and the docile state in which it seems to enslave our people. This show, thus, serves as an analogy of commitment; the commitment an athlete makes to a particular sport, as it parallels to the commitment people, women in particular, make to being “beautiful,” according to social standards. The show further suggests a type of imprisonment that tends to strip one of their natural identity and offers ways to create this surface being that most “think” is “better.”
The decision to approach this matter from an athletic point of view stemmed from years of playing aggressive sports and having to prove my femininity and justify my athleticism. I somehow wasn’t “allowed” to be girly AND very athletic; for athletics and playing rough was considered “boyish” behavior. This struggle created for me a bout of self-consciousness and the feeling that I always had to gain approval and strive to satisfy others in order to “fit in.” This struggle, I realized, also paralleled to that of millions of women, and even men, who suffered low-self esteem and self-consciousness about the way they looked. For decades the media has been a primary source in convincing us that individually, there is a “better” looking us. What is interesting about this is the fact that the media, too, throw around the idea of “being yourself,” only to then offer a standard criterion for being “beautiful” which negates that same idea by encouraging ways for us to all look the same.
I realized that athletics, though for different reasons perhaps, has a similar method of standardizing. The concepts of uniformity and conformity emerge, first, as a player is required to wear a team uniform; everyone looks the same, wears the same gear, and are taught to even act a certain way as a collective to ensure the proper representation or their respective team, league or school, instead of themselves. Secondly, these concepts emerge through the assignment of numbers for each team member. This presents, further, the idea of blending and conforming as no one really knows who you are and thus only recognize you by that assigned number until you are able to prove and show off your talents. Before this happens, however a player must first gain the approval of their coaches, teammates, school and even fans perhaps in order to get the playing time required to show off your talents. Additionally, this communal approval determines if and when you can be seen as or even respected as an individual, as well as a “true” athlete.
These two concepts – uniformity and conformity – illustrate how the personal identity is stripped away, or imprisoned, as one is made the slave of a certain notion, such as perfection, or to society itself; representing and serving another, striving for their approval in order to feel as if you exist or as if you are an “individual” amongst others. Blending before you can stand out and in terms of beauty; blend in while “thinking” it will make you stand out
These types of social enforcement is the underpinning of my work; the idea of collectivity vs. individuality. The way social infrastructures create and enforce methods of unconscious docility, such as beauty standards, upon society. As an artist I am interested in examining and comparing the underlying objectives of such enforcements; the behaviors, practices and ways of thinking people have become accustomed to and hence veer normal. Exploring subjects such as sexuality, gender roles, race, conformity, servitude and other socially related concepts, I use my work to parodically inspire the breaking of the docile normalities these subjects induce, while motivating people to understand life as we live it and not be afraid to truly “be themselves.”
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Frazier, Treyonna Nicole, "Flawless Slaves" (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 255.