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Des-medidas

Carmen Sigler
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The aim of this piece is to question the viability of the canonical measurements of the ideal female body (90-60-90). The author asks fourteen women of very different physical appearances to measure their bodies in front of the camera in order to demonstrate that women’s real bodies are varied and do not conform to the ideal model imposed by the mass media and the contemporary collective imaginary.

The video both pays tribute and revisits classic works of feminist video art of previous decades, such as Vital Statistics of a Citizen Simply Obtained by Martha Rossler (1977), who already then denounced the practice of measuring the female body as patriarchy’s authoritarian system of political and economic control.

In addition, Sigler establishes a direct connection with some of the referents of Art History and fashion, which function as stereotypes. She raises the question about the possibility of mapping the measurements of fashion today onto the women portrayed in the paintings of the Renaissance and the Baroque, bodies which in our society are considered canonical.

The protagonists of the performance carry a tape measure in their hands, and, after measuring themselves, recite their measurements to the camera. This provides the video with a credibility that no aseptic “voice-over” could achieve. We could say that this gesture divests the scene of a scientific or universalist effect, it brings the particular to the forefront and gives woman control over her body. This is an important detail when we compare this piece to the canonical piece of feminist video art, Martha Rossler’s Vital Statistics of A Citizen Simply Obtained (1977), in which the author presented her nudity to two male scientists who took note of her measurements. The authoritarian exercise of measuring as a form of social control in Rossler becomes in Sigler’s video a freer act, by which women themselves, tape measure in hand, denounce the tyranny of perfect measures and show pride in their bodies.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Des-medidas
  • Direction: Carmen Sigler
  • Production: Medios Técnicos Ático7 S.A. 1998.
  • Duration: 00:05:30
  • Languages: Spanish
  • Original format: DV-Cam
  • Formats: DV-Cam - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright