Bombarded by Images: A multi-media performance-based installation
As scholars and activists engaged with critical discourse concerned with fat/’obesity’, we have become frustrated with the often-repeated sentiment that fat hatred and people’s problematic embodiment has come about because we are ‘bombarded by images in the media’. This phrase suggests that through the helpless consumption of media imagery we are driven to develop a disordered consumption of food. Whilst ‘Bombarded by Images’ is most often found utilised by ‘The Media’ itself, its sentiment – and often exact wording – can be found littering academic enterprises, from undergraduate essays to published scholarly texts. ‘The Media’ is portrayed as an omnipresent entity making women – or more specifically ‘vulnerable girls’ – into passive consumers who hate their bodies. We consider ‘bombarded by images’ as a reductionist statement that fails to consider the multiplicity of the media, transforms people into helpless complainants and fails to develop discourse about fat or bodies in any productive way.
Taking the punk ethic ‘Don’t hate the media, become the media’, as our credo, Bombarded by Images takes power into our own hands and proposes that we are more than capable of developing our own cultural production as part of wider liberation strategies. We believe that anyone can do this, regardless of assumed artistic talent, and through making our own art we seek to critique notions of expertise and artistic value. Our art includes humorous aspects, but we are very serious about the wider ideals of agency and cultural production by marginalised people that demolishes artistic exclusivity and talks back to a mainstream that diminishes us repeatedly. We think that fun is radical and revolutionary.
Bombarded by Images will take the form of a group hang out around a big table, where we will sit together, talk and make art over the course of the conference. We will aim to produce as much art as possible in many different media, a massive volume, we will bombard visitors and viewers with our own images. We will present our art as a group show, with separate wall space dedicated to each of us. We will invite onlookers to take part and add their art to the walls. We acknowledge that conversations and friendships and intimate space is an important aspect of fat activism in the UK.
The Bad Art Collective has developed from networks and friendships within UK fat activist circles – and found its first tentative incarnation at the Bad Art Workshop featured in the Carnival of Cultural Feminist Activism at the University of York, March 2011. Our proposed residency at Researching Feminist Futures would be the culmination of ideas sparked at this event.
Charlotte Cooper is currently a Government of Ireland Ph.D scholar at the University of Limerick, courtesy of the Irish Social Sciences Platform, where she’s writing a thesis about fat activism. Charlotte is a DIY cultural producer, making zines and films, putting on events, and being in bands. Her background is in journalism and she is widely published. Charlotte published Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size (1998) and an award-winning novel, Cherry (2002), and she blogs about fat at www.obesitytimebomb.blogspot.com. In 2011 she was Artist in Residence at Villa Magdalena K, in Hamburg.
Dr Francis Ray White teaches gender studies and sociology at theUniversity of Westminster. Their research interests are in feminist and queer theory, fat studies and media discourse analysis. Francis Ray also makes zines under the name Bill Savage and is involved in a range of fat and queer activist projects.
Corinna Tomrley is co-editor of Fat Studies in the UK and has been researching women, fat and celebrity gossip for the past 5 years. After spending the majority of her life in fear of attempting any art because of a lack of ‘talent’ she has fully embraced a bad art ethic and persona and now produces bad art on a regular basis. She co-convened the Bad Art Workshop when she received an invitation with Becky Sanchez by the organisers of the Carnival of Feminist Cultural Activism.
Becky Sanchez has studied History of Art for almost a decade, during which she has finely honed her appreciation of and enjoyment of ‘Bad Art’. Since meeting the above Chubsters, her (Art) work and studies have taken on an enjoyably fatty approach, and looks forward to disrupting ‘the canon’ with the Bad Art Collective.