universal balance

knife figure - bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois, Knife Figure, 2002

What does the space between the feminine and the masculine look like?

This question to myself has drawn me towards a statement below about the work of Louise Bourgeois;

‘Through the use of abstract form and a wide variety of media, Bourgeois dealt with notions of universal balance, playfully juxtaposing materials conventionally considered male or female. She would, for example, use rough or hard materials most strongly associated with masculinity to sculpt soft biomorphic forms suggestive of femininity.’


Although I find this statement implies that it’s the materials that infer a blurring of the feminine and the masculine, supposedly answering my question, the forms of Bourgeois’s sculptures also reference the merging of a man and woman’s anatomy. This is not the space that I am imagining within my own work.


Louise Bourgeois, Janus Fleuri, 1968

The structural fabrication of a building is undoubtedly masculine with its erect nature and scale, constructed with the heavy/hard materials associated with the hefty workmanship of a man. While on the other hand the formation of a hand knitted garment is soft and nurturing, smaller and gentler in scale referencing the work of a woman. As I see it, forms and materials like these represent either man or woman without any literal bodily reference.

I don’t believe I am after the same thing as Bourgeois, I come from a different place and time, one of more equality. It is one where my everyday environment does not reference any dominance between man and woman. It is not that these innate ways between a man and a woman are not here; just that there is already a ‘universal balance’, a space where the boundaries that represent the masculine and the feminine are blurred and unclear. I look at the things that fill our home and wonder; is that a man’s object or a woman’s or simply neither/both?

So how do I best portray this in my work, or is it already there?


Reference links;




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