The article written in The Bottom Line on Nov. 9, 2011, regarding my solo Art Exhibition titled “Pretty Fluffy Squishy Hard: Neo-Feminism Through Sensuality”, stands as a paramount example of what not to do as a journalist. In all honesty, I was excited to see what The Bottom Line could produce, and I was thrilled for the publicity. As Art Director of The Daily Nexus, I have a general understanding of how college newspapers function, and I am curious as to how it could be possible to publish an article with so many questionable statements.
To say that I am concerned with the following quote is an understatement; I think ‘embarrassed’ is appropriate. These descriptors should not be tolerated within a 100-mile radius of a University:
“Through her paintings, sculptures and performance art, Niebuhr explores femininity in both a metaphorical and literal sense, questioning these preconceived notions and behaviors, and the good and bad ways women interact with each other.” This statement cheapens the intent of my solo exhibition and the very intent of my art-making process. To The Bottom Line, this makes you look “bad”.
“I did hear about this from a student who felt that it went too far,” said Leila Rupp, a professor from the Department of Feminist Studies. “Rape is a very serious and emotionally laden matter, and I do think that pretending to be a survivor of rape is problematic for a number of reasons.”
How strong is the foundation of a statement that rests on hand-me-down knowledge? To have a quote from a professor with whom I have never spoken to, who did not experience the physical performance, and hasn’t even seen the gallery documentation of the performance, makes this professor seem utterly detached, and dare I say it, lazy. Congratulations, Bottom Line, you have added a dramatic flair to the art review that will keep your readers interested, but at what cost?
My “Facedown” Performance artwork was serious. It was emotionally laden. But most importantly, it was pertinent for myself, for those around me, and for my community. I will continue to support rape survivors and those close to rape survivors as they decide, for themselves, what is the best way to heal.
“I don’t like the thing in my culture,” said Jessica Rangel, a biology major, “how it’s all about finding a man and getting married and having kids”
All right guys, this could get crazy, but have at it: I am a feminist AND I am simultaneously excited to get married to the man I love and to have children with him. My vision of ‘Neo-Feminism’ calls for respect in gender equality, but it also calls for tolerance in the resurgence of feminine sensuality and ideals. I am aware of my gender, and I am aware of, in some cases, the oppression of my gender, but I am also aware of my inherent power as a woman, and I will embrace this power. There are no works in the exhibition that point toward the use of this quotation from Rangel (who actually did not even visit the exhibition).
“That crossed my mind. I hoped people weren’t doing anything because they thought I was [sunbathing].” Niebuhr said. “But I was covered in blood.”
If you are as confused as I am with this statement, I forgive you. A word of advice for The Bottom Line, if you are going to have a reporter use quotations, make sure the documentation of those quotes are correct.
And for the juicy Grand Finale, I encountered what I can only assume to be a made-up post on the online version of the article from Professor Garious Tomkink, fictional author of “Hogwarts: A History”:
“I am not a fan of Fluffy art. Art should have clear meaning and artistic inspiration. This is a good review from the author. The Bottom Line you have a real gem here. There are so many other, more productive ways to express the hurt and pain that comes along with rape, that don’t involve ugly performance art.”
While I appreciate the…ummm…simplicity of Professor Tomkink’s comment (and lack of existence), it is my wish that The Bottom Line could understand the actual intent of the performance artwork, as well as the intent of the exhibition as a whole. If one had actually experienced “Pretty Fluffy Squishy Hard” in person, I assume that one would realize, as any normal person would (normal is relative when imaginary professors can comment on your art review), that absolutely nothing about my exhibition was tangibly (nor metaphorically) fluffy, except perhaps the fur covered speakers that played the sounds of human indifference to a train track suicide on October 21, 2011.
I asked professor Tomkink to meet me for coffee to discuss the response. No reply yet. And that, my friends, is the power of written word; the power to completely convey something entirely different from what actually existed.
Response from the Bottom Line: “We are sorry that you had such a strong negative reaction …”
My bottom line: Yeah, me too.
Kiki Niebuhr is a fourth-year art major.