Pissing on Patriarchy: Kiki Smith and Jia Chang

Standing Up Peeing is a series of photographs depicting nude bodies peeing while standing up. In six photos, Jia Chang depicts models performing the very banal, humanly function of urination in gracefully awkward postures. While the pretext of anatomy has labeled these poses "masculine", the depiction of female bodies mimicking them suggests a brute objection to the social constructs that equate them as "male" in the first place. Here, the female body is celebrated rather than shamed, praised for versatility rather than discredited for its "otherness". The viewer is involuntarily made voyeur as they gaze directly into the artist's invitation to criticize the social structures and taboos that aim to hide and exclude within our modern society.

From Jia Chang's "Standing Up Peeing":

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 6.25.41 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 6.24.54 PM.png

Concerned with interior biological processes of waste and regeneration, Kiki Smith subverts the Western sculptural tradition of the eroticized female form. Here the un-idealized life-size body of a woman, molded in sweet-smelling beeswax, crouches on the gallery floor with sparkling yellow beads streaming out behind her. The earthy subject is tempered by its delicate materials — wax and glass. The bowed head and folded arms suggest an introspective and vulnerable state, as our voyeuristic encounter with the crouched woman quietly insists we consider what constitutes improper behavior in communal space: is it the figure who publicly displays a private act, or the viewer who violates that privacy?

Kiki Smith's "Pee Body":


Dasha Ilina on Cathy Akers and Sophie Rickett

In Dasha Ilina's brief introduction to the works of Helen Chadwick, Cathy Akers and Sophie Rickett ("Feminist Artists Changing the World"), Ilina looks at Akers' "Pee Performances" and Rickett's "Pissing Women" as an attempt to challenge traditional ideas of dominance (Rickett) and question our relations to nature (Akers).

From Sophy Rickett's "Pissing Women":

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 12.45.18 PM.png

From Cathy Akers' "Pee Performances":


Whether you look at what you're doing as a political statement, a performance, or as a way of positioning yourself in relation to nature or culture, one thing is certain: you are in conversation with history.