What characterizes the pieces we create the most, is the women who wear them. For this reason, we are calling on our core community to join us in our series of talks titled 'In celebration of all women', where we cover subjects of the female gaze, womanhood, beauty, community, and female empowerment.
Next up in our series is Artist Sara Berman, who celebrates how women are, as she says, fucking tough.
In working with textiles as an artist and having a fashion designer and modeling background,
does clothes represent to you?
My background in fashion delivers me a deep understanding of the semiotics of fashion, and I use clothes to address how the body is held. How the female form is held safe, or exposed, or made vulnerable – so for me it’s an architecture of the body. I also use textiles quite a lot in my work. I make weavings and knitted sculptures, and I am very interested in the historical context of weaving and knitting as a fundamental basis of our evolution as a species. Our industrial revolution was basically based on knitting and weaving so there is a kind of historical and social context to that too. And that’s another place I deal with women and the space that we occupy historically. Women fundamentally underpinned the industrial revolution because if we didn’t have a jacquard weaving loom we wouldn’t have a computer! But no credit is given because weaving was and has always been a women’s craft, so I am sort of placing us within the context of history in that part of my work.
And in your paintings as well, the way that women are clothed in them..
Yes, I am quite careful with what clothes I use. I choose them carefully and they are often symbolic and not what they appear to be. Like a straitjacket painted to look like a normal jacket. I use quite a lot of androgynous clothing, and if I use feminine (“feminine”) clothing it tends to be very much for the reason of how the body is exposed within them, or made vulnerable or safe. My women are fairly androgynous and whilst often sexualised, in the sexualisation of them I am careful how I depict and use the bodies and their movements to show our inherent strength, because women are fucking tough.
When do you feel the most empowered? And why is that?
I am very lucky because in my position as an artist I have a place and a space to express my views, my emotions, my feelings – my very being. That is how I deal with the world, through my work where I have a platform and a medium where I can express myself. So I get to be angry every day. And I get to express my views every day. And sometimes these views get seen by other people, and that is a very valuable position to be able to take, and I fully take it. So, for example, given the recent ruling on Roe v. Wade, I am in a position to turn around and say that I do not want my work bought by institutions in US states who do not support abortion. You can’t have it because you’re not supporting where I am at, and if you don’t support where I am at, then you shouldn’t be showing my work because you too have the right to take your position. And some of these states have taken their position, and I think it’s fucking disgusting and a basic human rights violation, so I am therefore not prepared to be in dealership with these people whose views I can’t respect and I don’t want to be respected by them. I am not interested in discussing my basic human rights, they are not up for discussion.
Women are tough, so why do you think it is that we shouldn’t be seen as angry?
I think women can be angry. I am absolutely furious. I am angry every day in the position I find myself in, and about the way that I am forced to experience the world. So I think women can be angry. I think it is a projection that we can’t be, and I think it is a very naive and fanciful and quite frankly ridiculous suggestion that we shouldn’t be angry. The idea that anger is something that belongs to men is a very interesting construct. Because men are allowed to be angry. So this idea that women are not allowed anger means that we are subscribing to a viewpoint where we are told how we are meant to feel according to men. Anger is an emotion that is often prized in men and it’s seen as being assertive or being direct or forceful. But lots of men are soft, and they are kind and sensitive, and they cry, and they are allowed by themselves to be those things. So we are allowed to be angry. We are allowed to be as angry as we want to be, which I would imagine for most women is pretty fucking angry. I am angry and I am not seeking anyone’s permission for my rage.
The constant conversation around the female body influences us all. In your view, how can we make this conversation more liberating, not limiting?
I don’t find it limiting. At all. I have recently started with performance work, and I will be filming my next work in a couple of weeks time. And I think because of my modeling background I sort of learnt how to use my body very early on, and I am quite happy to use it to explain my position, which is one of utter liberation. I don't feel like I am not allowed to be liberated. I am not interested in the rules, because they weren't made by me. So unless they are my rules they’re not really anyone's rules at all.
This campaign is called “In Celebration of All Women”, what message would you like to share with women around the world?
That this is a moment for all women, and all those who identify as women, to stand together and show each other solidarity for our rights. This is not a moment where we can afford to be disseminating the politics of gender identity. This is a moment where if you are a woman, in your own eyes, those are the only eyes that matter. And nobody has the right to take your words or your identity or your feelings away from you. And in that, in accepting and acknowledging being a woman, we have to stand together as one and support.
Production by Stephanie Lawley Art Direction and Styling by Bonnie Langedijk Photography by Sam Copeland
Interview by Iselin Skogli Casting by Andrea Martinez