The Fat Free Elotera is a (developing) character on Are You My Other? The Battle Between The Self and The Other, an ongoing self-portrait dialog exchange project, produced by myself (ME) and Philadelphia-based performance and installation artist Andria Morales (AM). Through a series of weekly exchanged blog posts, Andria and I publicly negate, deconstruct, and reconstruct our individual histories, identities, and conceptions of self.
Click on images below to experience the creation of our latest persona.
Over at Are You My Other? AM and I have been having some pretty intense conversations about what it means to become oneself. Needless to say, when I saw this video of DJ Pauly D as DJ Pauly D, I was speechless.
because this is somehow oddly fascinating and YES because we are still watching
el es frida kahlo is currently on view in the New Media Room at the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis, MO.
el es frida kahlo, 2007-present
Frida Kahlo played with the identity that she wanted to project and the identity that was placed on her by others. Kahlo used her clothing, political affiliations, sexual escapades, and personal traumas, to create a character that informed her body of work. She inscribed her identity, painting her image over and over, constructing a mythology around her persona.
In el es frida kahlo I confront the ambivalence I experience as a result of my simultaneous obsession with Frida Kahlo and weariness towards her commodification. Viewed from a tiny pinhole, dressed as Kahlo, I stand before a reproduction of one of her self portraits. With a mixture of rage, anxiety, and complete fear, I chant “el es Frida Kahlo, ella es Frida Kahlo, el es Frida Kahlo, yo soy, yo soy, yo soy Frida Kahlo,” he is Frida Kahlo, she is Frida Kahlo, I am, I am, I am Frida Kahlo. As I yell, the painting behind me begins to fall. I violently tear down my braids and smudge off my makeup while continuing to scream “I am Frida Kahlo, I am Frida Kahlo, yo soy Frida Kahlo!”
el es frida kahlo at the Bruno David Gallery (video filmed and edited by Felicia Chen)
el es frida kahlo YouTube video
FREE el es frida kahlo animated gif avaliable on MayaEscobar.com
link to translation of recent review by David Sperber in Ma’arav Israeli Arts and Culture Magazine:
@Mayaescobar posted your jewish women clip w\o realizing it was parody. A little too well done. 😉
I visited his blog and found a post on Jewish Women called Too much kool-aid. The comments generated by this post are really interesting and address the video from a multitude of perspectives.
expert from his post:
“Aside: At the end, the woman on the film suggests that Jewish women who are dissatisfied with their back of the bus status secretly wish to be men. There’s some truth to that, of course. Jewish women wish to be men in the same way that Jim Crow blacks wished to be white, meaning they want the same freedoms and opportunities that are available to men. Though Judaism has made much progress in this regard, the RW and Ultra circles still run like MadMen. Telling women they’re more spiritual, pat pat, run along, is just a way to protect the status quo.”
if you follow the link-trail, it becomes clear that this video is likely making fun of the attitudes it depicts. so as right as what you say in this post is, it’s not really aimed at this video…
So are you opposed to any distinction whatsoever between men and women in Judaism? Do you think we should get rid of the mechitza and the laws of niddah and negiah and tzniut because they all make distinctions between male/female and thus somehow discriminate against and oppress women? If so, why aren’t you a Conservative Jew? If not, why not? What kinds of distinctions between men and women are not discriminatory in your book?
The fact is, Judaism have a very conservative halachic process that makes it difficult or impossible to change most things. Do you think we should change that process to make it easier to make big changes? If so how is that different from the Conservatives?
People mistakenly think that every explanation for distinctions between men and women must be some kind of conspiratorial justification for the status quo. But that’s not true. You have to look at the history of the explanation. For example, consider shelo asani isha. The explanation is, women, slaves and gentiles don’t have to perform certain mitzvot, so we’re thanking Hashem for giving us more mitzvot to do. Conspiracy to trick people into thinking Judaism isn’t sexist? No — it’s in the tosefta to the earlier version of the three berachot (which thanked Hashem for not making one an ignoramus.) So that supposedly “P.C.” explanation was from before the mitzvah was even finalized!
It’s a mistake to think about Judaism in the same terms you think about American history. It’s apples and oranges. If not, you’d be calling someone a “bigot” for not accepting the ordination of women, just like many liberals today will call you a bigot if you don’t accept gay marriage. Of course bigot is an implicit reference to anti-black American racism. Which is a lot different from differing roles of the sexes in Judaism.
Actually, oppressing women is the best reason to get rid of the mechitza. Nidda has nothing to do with this.
And Tzniut has nothing to do with this. Tzniut has everything to do with social norms. Oppressive double-standard tzniut should be abolished immediately,
And you do not have to be a Conservative Jew to understand this. You just have to be an Orthodox woman.
AFIK the mechitza is an outcropping of the orthodox halachic process. It is at least a universally (amongst orthodox) practice minhag. How would abolishing the mechitza be consistent with orthodox Judaism?
I enjoy davening in my own (men’s) section, because I would likely feel distracted/embarrassed by any attractive women in our shul standing next to me, hearing me sing, etc. I don’t see how this translates into a desire on my part to oppress women. I’m sure there are men who wouldn’t feel this way, and would probably daven just fine, just as there are young men, on the other side of the spectrum, who would maybe even ogle women. But it’s impossible to satisfy everyone in a community.
I agree that there are misogynists in Jewish communities, but I don’t think allocating separate space to men and women in the synagogue automatically translates into oppressing women.
In most Orthodox shuls, I would agree that most mechitzot themselves are misogynistic.
Buried in the back, or the corner, with an obstructed view of the proceedings.
The purpose of the mechitza is to allow for the inclusion of women in the service. Not the exclusion.
it depends on who you’re dealing with. i do remember once watching a woman scream at someone for reverse sexism and when iu asked “what about me? i do the same!” they replied “you take the additude seriously and actualy believe we’re inherently better than men… and act in a fashion ment to prove it”
so it really depends upon how it is felt about and put into practice lemaise. I remember one woman quoting a sicha of the lubavitcher rebbe ztz”l a”h and saying “it sounds like litvish appologetics doesn’t it?” she then adds “well there is a difference, the litvishers are telling this to women, the rebbe first said this sicha to men!”
This wikipedia article seems to support your views, except for the citation of R’ Hirsh (who might be hard to depict as a feminist). But the article may be leaving out earlier sources.
Whoah, that lady had the most steriotypical modeof Ashkenazi-Jewish speech I ever saw…
Uriel do you really and truly think everything frum Jews say and do is authentically Jewish? well guess again. The post is a critism of the man made culture, not the god decreed religion.
The answer to your question is no. Will you answer my questions?
Look at the quote from Rav Hirsh in the wikipedia article and you’ll see that the idea that women are more spiritual than men is indeed authenticly Jewish (unless you see Rav Hirsch as some kind of pre-feminist apoogist). How old it is, I’m not so sure.
The idea that women have a better nature or more spiritual is NOT authenticly Jewish. We know this because non Jews got fed the same horse manure as a way of keeping them satisfied with less. Look, I dont even know what youre arguing: The more right you go the worse off Jewish women are -in satmar they cant even drive and have to shave their heads. Thats an inrefutable facr.
That’s an odd way of proving something, you have to admit. I think a better way is to see how old an idea is. But even if it’s not that old, if Rav Hirsh and Rav Aaron Soloveichik said it, I would say that’s pretty authentic. Something doesn’t have to be somewhere in the Mishnah to be authentic (though the older the more authentic). Much of kabbalah, mussar and chassidus would be inauthentic if that were your standard. At that point you’d be creating your own special denomination that is very picky and choosy about what in modern Judaism is authentic to you — and that sounds like Reform.
Are you saying Satmar is more authentic than other Jewish groups? Chazal surely had more contact with heretics and gentiles than Satmar does.
I think Zapp is right.
This is a parody / satire for sure. She is NOT serious.
Recently Latina Role Model was featured on TikiTiki Blog: stories with cultura, color and sabor, in a post by Carrie Ferguson Weir called Smart Latina vs. Sexy Latina. Carrie asked readers:
So, has your Smart Latina run up against the Sexy Latina? What do you see when you watch Maya’s video? What does it bring up for you? Why can’t we be both Smart and Sexy? Let’s talk about this, break it down, maybe shatter some stereotypes, and bust our own too.
Check out the PROFOUND difference in the nature of the comments left on this post (comments posted below) vs the ones left on YouTube.
my contribution to post on Tiki Tiki:
I perform over-the-top representations of different identities. I group together these representations (characters) as a means of challenging limited perspectives of what women are like, and in this case, what Latina women are like.
This character is supposed to be an intellectual, accomplished, socially conscious woman- who will forever be seen as the “Sexy Latina.” The low quality video blog is meant to mock scenes in movies, where the hot high school teacher walks down the hall and all the boys undress her in their minds.
But I am not taking a negative or positive stance either. I want to question the role Latinas play in perpetuating this persona, and question if that is even a bad thing? Are we limiting ourselves by continuing to have this same conversation, even though the behavior persists, are we enforcing it by bring more attention to it?
I haven’t always been so impartial. Out of all of the characters in Acciones Plásticas, The Latina Role Model is the one I identified with the most. My original description of the way this character was perceived by others was much more reactionary and much angrier than it is now. (see below)
This is an excellent post and an excellent video. It really does make you think.
I am really not qualified to speak from a “Latina perspective” on this topic because I am Anglo. (If you read my blog, you’ll know I’m Sra. López only because I married a Salvadoran.)
That being the case, I can’t speak from personal experience on Latina stereotypes, but I would like to contribute an opinion or two on topics that are pretty closely related.
For example, it really bothers me that the Latinas picked as reporters and journalists on Univision and Telemundo seem to be more for the purposes of eye candy than to report the news and add intelligent commentary — not that they aren’t intelligent women, but I think the sexism by the head honchos over there is pretty evident, not just on the news, but on other programming as well… And English language channels aren’t always much better. I think Western women in general – no matter what their race, fight very hard to overcome the sense that we are valued more as objects of sex/beauty, than for what’s inside.
It’s very frustrating and I don’t envy the difficult job many women have of raising daughters in this world. (I have 2 sons) … With my own self esteem issues, I can’t imagine what a challenge it would be to raise a girl who is confident in herself and who doesn’t let Hollywood, fashion magazines, men, or even other females, get her down.
I don’t know the solution to achieving true equality, but I think talking about it all is a good start.
Very interesting…The role model I immediately identified with was the socially-conscious, smart role model, which made me realize how loaded that role is. Being an accomplished and educated Latina comes with so many expectations — the whole giving back to the community, serving your community, being a role model and mentor for others, etc. — that’s not something that an accomplished non-Latina woman has to worry about (or feel committed to).
With regards to the sexy role model — I always say that there is no sexier woman than the one that exudes confidence in herself and who she is — the sexy clothes are just extras…
I guess I just never even thought of myself as the Sexy Latina…but a cute one yes! LOL! But once I´m on the dance floor, then the sexy comes out and it´s all good.
But,seriously, I guess I just lack the perceived-Latina sassy-ness as I´ve never felt that bias towards me.
I will definitely agree with dear Sra. López that the media, especially the Hispanic media, is completely promoting the hot Latina stereotype, and not much of the smart Latina one. Why do their “news” anchors feel they need to have their breast augmented to be taken seriously?
I think it is inherent in our culture to be “hot” in every sense of the word because we are so passionate.
I love what Maya was trying to accomplish and say with her video, but I found that she couldn’t hide or deny her Latin sensuality even when she was trying to play the part of an “intellectual, accomplished, socially conscious woman.”
This DID make me stop and think, but what I realized is that I tend to shoot for a 3rd type. I go for “Classy Latina.” You know, the one that can wear the big hoops and sexy top with a pant suit. Someone like Ingrid Hoffman or Karla Martinez.
My impression is that Latina women play into the stereotype because Latino men often expect them to, and they are threatened by a smart woman. It is not just non-Latino men who expect a mujer caliente and nothing more.
How you project yourself, depends on you, no matter what. I, like Ana, never felt that I was looked at differently because I am Latina. I don’t see my self as a Sexy, Hot, Latina(I hope my husband does, though). Hell, I’m 33, been married for 12 years, and have 3 kids. I don’t get “chifles” anymore… ): LOL!
This is directed towards the younger, single generation. How they present themselves as the future “Latina Generation”, depends on how they are raised. It’s up to us, as moms, to teach our daughters to go and be the BEST they can be. It’s up to me to raise my daughter to know what it right from wrong. Do guys really still think that girls are still destined to be “home/baby makers? Really??
Forget Hollywood. Forget the Media. Heck, forget the evening news. If those ladies felt that they need to have their lady lumps hanging out in order to get the job, then I feel sorry for them. But, it is what it is.
I will raise my daughter to know that education is the key to being classy and sexy! Not exposed Humps and Lady Lumps! Also, I will raise my boys to see women and they see themselves. Whether they marry a Latina or not.
A smart and fun video commentary on the stereotypes of women in general…the educated intellectual, the hot babe, the innocent women. I like that Maya uses humor to deflect the extremes. Also that she creates a fine line between integrating the different role types. This is interesting because everyone is never just one thing…but we may choose to identify one way.
I think it’s part of a male dominated culture. Many women have this problem of having to manage male expectations in their professional lives, whether it is living with objectification or men projecting their need for nurturing from any woman they meet. I’ve had jobs where men thought it was okay to flirt with me and expected me to fulfill some messed up hot secretary fantasy, and I’ve had jobs where men I worked with expected me to be maternal and when I was driven, I was labeled aggressive. I’m not a dog, I’m not a hooker, and I’m definitely not your mother, guys.
I think we have to teach men when they’re children that women can fill many roles and to expect them to be as capable and androgynous as any man performing the same duties. By the same token, I don’t know how I feel about using gender or sexuality as an asset to get ahead, my feeling is that anything you do that is manipulative in nature, is skirting unethical, if not flat out crossing the line.
Having a sense of humor about stereotypes though, I don’t know if I see a problem as long as you don’t go too far and reinforce them. If it’s clear it’s a joke and part of the joke is how ridiculous stereotypical behavior really is…
I love the feedback, ladies. All great points and fabulous reflection.
I am left wondering this, after reading Ana and Liz’s comments: Is stereotype/perception felt/seen at a greater level when we don’t live in predominately Latino communities?
This comes to mind because your comments made me realize I never thought too much of my Latina side and my American side until I lived in cities where there weren’t a bunch of Cubans running around me everywhere. My otherness was apparent and pointed out. It was almost like, wow, I am different?
I emailed your post to my niece, whose studying at Penn State, this is what she had to say:
Well, I agree with her lol. A lot of people especially here in Pennsylvania, see me as exotic because I’m Hispanic. They expect me to speak Spanish all of the time and a lot of them expect me to be kinda stupid and slutty. But when people get to know me, they find out that I’m extremely smart. Smarter than most people they encounter. And it sucks because I’m always having to prove myself to people and to teachers. But in the end, I’m the one that’s dropping jaws for my intellect and not for my attractiveness =)
Liz, aha! Thank you for sending the post to your niece and validating my theory. I love how your niece wrote to you and the “stupid and slutty” line made me bust out laughing — especially because she obviously is not.
Gracias, proud Tia!
(Maybe she needs to write for the Tiki Tiki? hmmmm?)
I think that this expectation for Latinas to appear sexy is one reason why I reject the hot mom movement. I wish there was just as much social pressure to be smart Latinas, smart moms, smart women as there is to be hot, sexy, etc.
The wonderful Suzan Shutan has agreed to help me with my resume/cv/statements in exchange for web design and video work. I couldn’t think of a better collaboration. Here is one of the many projects (and its many iterations) that I am attempting to catalog for said documents…
Tallit Rebozo, from the series Hiddur Mitzvah, Quilted, Embroidered, Woven, and Recycled Fabric, 2006
As you doggedly pursue, chase, and snap at the heels of your Self, you do so knowing there is no chance you will ever catch up. For each of us, throughout our individual lives, we will be ever distant from knowing our own selves. When a person pursues his or her Self in an aggressive, determined way, the resulting hyperactive sensibility allows for a greater adaptability and sensitivity. This flexibility can be useful in contemporary human life, but only to a certain extent. It is also due to the fast-paced nature of today’s engineered environments, that there is a strong tendency (especially among young people) to go to extreme lengths in order to sustain within their own lives the hyperactivity and intensity they witness in popular culture and media. Consider the called-for constant reachability via cell-phones and laptops, as well as many other forms of expedition in our ‘lived-in’ world. These accommodations range from aerodynamics to ATMs. As many workers in today’s professional world simultaneously lament and extol their parasitic relationships with a Blackberry or other such Pocket God, I, too, have at many times felt chained to my laptop (i.e. the Internet), fearing I would miss something absolutely critical. Unfortunately, the fact that missing anything important has not happened for the most part, hardly affects the worry and anxiety that it might happen.
Yet still, it seems, this once motivating anxiety is becoming a repressed urge, one which is less and less a bother, the more my environment becomes one seamless, semi-omniscient “news” feed. On the evening of President Barack Obama’s Address to the Nation, Maya Escobar recorded “Obama Tweet: How a New Generation Gets Their Information.” In this video Escobar documented a particular event, an important cultural event, one which incidentally brought the use of Twitter to the fore in popular culture.
Obama Tweet: How a New Generation Gets Their Information, 2008
I was with Escobar on this evening and was struck by the depth of her interaction with the digital realm. She was sitting in front of a T.V. broadcast of the speech, while she was also further mediating that media via her computer, on which she was following Twitter and CNN.com’s coverage of the event. Beyond all that, Escobar was creating her own real-time, indexical document of the event on television along with CNN and Twitter as instantaneous forms of annotations to the President’s speech. Escobar was watching, sitting one more stage removed, behind the lens of a video camera. Because of the way in which she layered the television screen the computer screen and then the interface of any viewer’s monitor, Escobar has effortlessly choreographed a multi-layered, engagement with the very most current of events. However, though I may have somewhat qualified and rationalized instant-communication tools, I still believe there must be a deliberate effort to complement those socially-prescribed media with other, independent forms of digital exchanges. While I do believe in the great social potential of our rapidly advancing communications media, my work seeks to push and pull on parts of these evolving global ‘informachines,’ in an effort to challenge the omnipresence of commercial media.
Look Out, 2008
That sort of layering of non-dimensional spaces is unique to the contemporary world, with the inception of digital technologies, and this collage-like aesthetic is of great interest to the work of Maya Escobar, as much as it is to my own. Although, unlike the deceptively referential works of my counter-part, in many of my works, I use and refer to popular media sources and specific Internet sites indirectly and rarely with any superficial visibility. It is with great deliberation and much hypothesizing that I curate my works in the manner in which I do. I intend my works to avoid specificity and leave wide-open their readings to a much more self-guided analysis by viewers. In the piece “Look Out,” the projected video came directly from YouTube. I simply cut off the last second of the original video, thus shortening it to 17 seconds. I then prepared it as a video-loop for its installation underneath a staircase at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Because of its placement, where it fills a theretofore, unaddressed space, it is as though the rolling image is part of the museum structure itself. The particular clip, which I chose after viewing dozens of similarly tagged videos (‘storm,’ ‘tree,’ ‘willow,’ and ‘weeping’), was selected for very specific compositional reasons; reasons which are the very same principles of design taught to anyone working in commercial design or the visual arts: complimentary colors, rule of thirds, dynamic composition and varied textures, to name a few. Because of my focused selection process, this video, although created for very different (and unknown) reasons, still fits very well into the installation space as a deliberately designed, and potentially permanent use of what is otherwise a neglected space. The video became part of the stairwell. By existing within a predetermined, architectural frame, it became part of the space, as opposed to sitting on the surface as a painting does. This projection did not exist in the way that many (most) installations do: as obvious alterations or obtrusive interjections into a space. This work asserts itself as a physical part of the space, as the projector beams through from behind the scrim in the stairwell. It also assumes a living presence, as it reiterates itself, by many reflections and refractions, split and scattered, bouncing around the main hall of the museum. The video functioned as a decorative element but also an illusory window to an outside world, whereas, the space without that piece is simply a pane of glass that looks into the shadowy crotch of a stairwell. I do not mean every square inch should be taken up for some sort of visual activity or illusionary window. Simply, this work proposes how our constructed spaces, in this case a venue for art viewing, might be reinterpreted. Insofar as, a corner can conceivably become a window, as illusory and impermanent as my particular interpretation may be.