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A Binder of Women

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The A Binder of Women film was a collaborative effort with five other women to demonstrate how women have been and how many women still are bound by externally-dictated societal, cultural and traditional images.  The five women who agreed to participate in the film are diverse in race, ethnicity, age, size and sexual orientation, and include a mother and daughter. The women were filmed trying on a corset purchased at a Frederick's of Hollywood store in Atlanta.

 

Each woman tried on the same corset (approxmately the size worn by a woman of average build). The set for the film was designed to mimic a typical dressing room in a department store.  There was a chair on which to place their clothing, and a mirror placed below the camera so the women could view themselves.  They were told only to approach this as if they were interested in purchasing a corset. Their reactions were captured on film.

 

This project is designed to be replicated in other cities and possibly other countries with women and self-identified women who are interested in participating in this project.  The artist is interested in women who are diverse in nature, i.e., different ages, sizes, races, ethnicities, sexual orientation and identity, and culture.

 

The intent is to develop a documentary about women, how they view themselves, how some try to "mold" themselves into an assumed or idealized definition of beauty, how women may try to shape their bodies into what they believe is the acceptable norm in their social and cultural milieu.

 

Exhibit Options:

 

1.  The film in its current state should be shown as a continuous loop video. The actual corset should be hung on a nearby wall on a hanger from a hook, as it was in the film.  Self-identified women could try on the corset as the women in the film have, clothed or unclothed.

 

2.  If at all possible, self-identified women could try on the corset in an adjacent enclosed room or behind a screen where a camera would be set up for self-filming.  If they choose to contribute their film to the Binder of Women project, they will need to sign a release form (releases will be provided).  As in the video loop, the corset would be placed on a hook or hanger with a chair on which to place their clothing and other belongings as well as a mirror so they can view themselves.  The volunteer models may try on the corset clothed or unclothed as was the option available to the models in the current video.

 

Film Title:

 

The title for the film was chosen in response to a comment made by Mitt Romney when he was campaigning for the presidency of the United States.  He was asked if he ever sought women to fill positions on his staff.  He responded that he asked for a "binder of women". Nevertheless, the practice of binding girls and women so that their bodies conform to an idealized image of womanhood or as a means of exerting psychological-social-cultural control over them is still a common practice in some societies.  A Binder of Women is a metaphor for the various explicit and covert ways women have been and continue to be bound by male hegemony.

Minni's Unfinished Doctoral Program

This film is the story of the Nuremberg Doctor Trials and their impact on one individual, Minni Scott.

 

Minni Scott was born in Bremen, Germany in 1923, the only child of Ernst and Frieda Warnke.  Minni's story begins with how she came to America with her mother as a 10 month old and continues with a brief description of her childhood in Bushwick, Brooklyn and in Queens.  Minni speaks lovingly of her parents and grandparents, whom she visited in Germany a few times during her childhood, until 1936 when she was sent on her own by ship to stay with her maternal grandparents for almost a year to recover from tuberculosis.

 

Minni's independence, gumption and determination are evident even in her childhood.  The trip alone to Germany is only one experience describing her character.  Others involve her education and initial career experience after graduating from Hunter College with a degree in Elementary Education and Language.

 

The story proceeds with how Minni got to Nuremberg and what her assignment was at the Doctor Trials.  On her 23rd birthday, January 22, 1947, she boarded an army transport plane in Washington, DC and flew by way of the Azores and Paris to Frankfurt where she boarded a train for Nuremberg.  Without any significant preparation for what she would encounter, she recalls her experience, "I traveled by train and the sights were to remain with me forever."

 

As t turns out, the sights were not the only things that remained with Minni.  Now, at age 90, Minni is still haunted by what she read and heard at the trials, the unimaginable experiments performed by the 22 men and one woman who were physicians, the reports of whole villages being decimated, and the treatment of individuals who were considered "not fit for life", have led her to her life's work and continuing research and ongoing therapy to the present day.

 

The film highlights specific recollections of Minni's, the experiments and sentences of the 23 physicians on trial, the decimation of Lidice, and the hideous crimes committed at Hadamar Institute, primarily on children who were considered mentally and physically disabled.  When Minni returned to the U.S., she turned to education as a career and found her calling with what today are called Special Education students.  She went on to earn a Master's Degree and to teach at various colleges, universities and public schools. 

 

In her 70s, Minni applied and was accepted into a Ph.D. program at Union Institute and Universtiy.  Due to health reasons she was unable to complete her Ph.D.  For Minni this film serves as a way to bring to the public what she hoped to accomplish by completing her program, a curriculum for junior high school students that would focus on the trials, on man's inhumanity to man, and how very important it is to remember to "be kind to people," so that those unimaginable horrors never occur again.

 

 

Holocaust Survivor Project

 

This project is a result of interviews with Holocaust survivors. As survivors age, their stories will be lost. As it is, there are people today in 2014 who believe the Holocaust never happened. Many schools give short shrift to telling children about the Holocaust. Some schools even offer parents the option of opting their children out of Holocaust related lessons.

 

As an artist, a Jewish artist, I feel strongly that if we are not to repeat that horrific event, the stories of survivors must be captured, images must be made to reveal the horrors and at the same time to reflect the resilience of those people who survived that extraordinary moment in history.  Even as I say there should never be another Hitler, another war with the intentional destruction of specific groups of people we face similar occurrences today in 2014 in Syria as well as in several other countries. I feel even more compelled to tell the stories of Holocaust survivors as reminders of man’s inhumanity to man.

 

While each story is unique and awe inspiring, there are also some common elements I try to capture with the images I create like the railroad tracks and the barbed wire. I often ask the survivors what images they would create if they could – those ideas are inspiration for my art.

 

Never let those unimaginable horrors occur again!

Khoot Tayaal (Barbed Wire)

Mixed Media Collage, Fabric, Stitching, Oil Pastel, Fashioned Barbed Wire 41.5 x 60 inches 2013