More Than A Woman?
The Delaware Contemporary | Wilmington, DE
January 13 - May 27, 2022
As the Gibb Brothers, of the Bee Gees, wrote in their 1977 disco hit, More Than A Woman, "I've seen you growing every day, I never really looked before, but now you take my breath away".
This upbeat song describes a man finally noticing a woman, and wanting to express a newly found love, culminating in the well known chorus, “More than a woman, more than a woman to me”. Although a song that flatters a certain sensibility, it also suggests an assumed nature of what it means to be a woman. The romanticism of the song is built upon surprise, the shock and awe of the man as he acknowledges how the woman surpassed his expectations. This surprise speaks to the disregard of women as anything outside of their prescribed roles, which are largely defined by their body.
In More Than A Woman?, three artists address the “female form”, referencing the biologically-sexed female body, while simultaneously abstracting it to dismantle Westernized ideals of female roles. These cultural constructs have historically defined women; categorizing them within tropes related to sexual reproduction, domestic partnerships, and employment.
The female body is tethered to its function, which has led to ongoing battles for reproductive rights, equal pay, and affordable resources for child care. As visibility for transgender and gender non-conforming communities increases, the female form continues to be a source of egregious harassment. Last year (2021) marked the worst in recent history for state legislation regarding LGBTQAI+ rights with 16 anti-bills enacted in the United States. And in the wake of the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, these legislative decisions showcase that the continuing fight for bodily autonomy maintains the myth of Westernized exceptionalism.
Orly Cogan, Lauren Galban, and Johanna Goodman each utilize the female form to examine and embrace the female body. In doing so, their work adds nuance to the question; what does it mean to be more than a woman?