Eva Jane Gates
Part I - The Weird: A Theoretical Framework
“The weird is a particular kind of perturbation” states Mark Fisher, “a sensation of wrongness: a weird entity [...] is so strange that it makes us feel that it should not exist, or at least it should not exist here”¹.
By merging film with Fisher’s theory of “The Weird”, I explore and subvert preconceived notions of feminine/masculine concepts.
“Freud’s unheimlich, is about the strange within the familiar, the strangely familiar, the familiar as strange -- about the way in which the domestic world does not coincide with itself”¹.
Inviting an act proprietary to the gym into the home solicits explosive power in a space not originally designed for such an activity. The performative nature of weightlifting within a ‘domestic’ setting superpose out-dated feminine obligations with the radical notions of strength.
How can one accurately classify the unclassified? What happens when the tools relied on to make sense of the world are no longer valid?
“The weird is often a sign that we are in the presence of the new [where] the concepts and frameworks which we have previously employed are now obsolete. [It] is not wrong, after all, it is our conceptions that must be inadequate”¹.
Part II - The Birth of the Powersnatch platform
Following my discovery of the term ‘invisible work’, I use the body as a tool; a material to communicate the ideals of equality, strength and respect surrounding Powersnatch. As Penny states, “what could be more material, after all, than the body and the idea of the body?”².
As I exert myself, the shadow is a metaphor of women’s invisible work; its form appearing vaguely and anonymously when light is shed upon it. A dichotomy of light and dark. It is not flesh nor bones, therefore it cannot be meat, “meat on which the system [can] feed”³. The shadow never just is, its intangibility challenges its existence; it’s fate forever in the hands of those in control of the light.
Domestic work is forever synonymous with Invisible work.
Part III - Girly Concrete Protest
What if the practical aspect of weightlifting turns into an aesthetic subversion.
Inspired by the mixed media ‘Girli concrete’⁴ and Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party”⁵, I make weights using techniques traditionally framed as “domestic craft” to empower and celebrate, but also to subvert; a change of assumption, association and a novel incorporation into the weightlifting world.
I wonder. Does the symbolic juxtaposition of these traditionally feminine textiles against the imposition of concrete increase their perceived value?
Does this process make the ‘invisible work’ finally visible?
Oh the irony! Spending countless hours performing a task deemed to be ubiquitously feminine, just for the object to be used against the very stereotype it reinforces.
Part IV - An Ode To Weightlifting
An Ode to Weightlifting is an amalgamation of the literary, visual and material explorations from part I, II & III. If muscles alone have the power to subvert restricting, artificial stereotypes imposed on women in Western societies, then weightlifting with “Girli Concrete” weights exposes the artificiality and inauthenticity of traditional ‘gender’ and sex ideals.
In this live streamed performance, also watched by my neighbours stuck in quarantine, I recite a poem I wrote, whilst simultaneously weightlifting.
Powersnatch is not a project just about weightlifting. It is a platform, a way of life, created in hopes of dissociating out-dated, negative connotations of women as weak; as objects to possess, not to respect. It is about women not having to assert themselves in certain spaces. It is about women being valued and respected for their endeavours and accomplishments in all spaces.
“Nobody gives away power. Power needs to be taken”⁶
Part I: A visual exploration of Mark Fisher’s Weird.
Part II: The body as a tool.
Part III: Girli Concrete weights process.
Part IV: Final performance where I recit “An Ode To Weightlifting” whilst lifting.
Watch my Powersnatch viva video HERE.
¹ THE WEIRD AND THE EERIE - MARK FISHER
² MEAT MARKET - LAURIE PENNY
³ CAPITALISM REALISM - MARK FISHER
WOMEN AND POWER - MARY BEARD
INVISIBLE WOMEN - CAROLINA CRIADO PEREZ
STRONG AND HARD WOMEN - TANYA BUNSELL
DESIGN AS ATTITUDE - ALICE RAWSTHORN
⁴ GIRLI CONCRETE - TRISH BELFORD AND RUTH MORROW
⁵ THE DINNER PARTY - JUDY CHICAGO
⁶ WHAT THE F* IS GOING ON (DOCUMENTARY) - ROSA MARQUEZ + MARTA JAENES
⁷ HELL HATH NO FURY - HELENA HAUSS