Critical Writing Index

Wendy Geller's 48-hour beauty blitz: gender, class, and the pleasures of popular culture

by Jayne Wark

Art Journal, Winter 1997, no. 56, pp. 41-47

Part of a special issue on performance art. In 1983, Wendy Geller produced a videotape called 48-Hour Beauty Blitz, the title and contents of which were taken directly from a how-to article in Glamour magazine. Drawing directly on a well-established genre of feminist performance, she went beyond her predecessors by revealing the subtle operations by which gender identity is formed within “a disclosure of class relations.” By deriving the premise of her investigation from the codes and conventions of women's magazines, the consumption of which resulted in repeated clashes with the reality of her own meager existence as a student, she treated gender as a located social construction that cannot be isolated from the conditions surrounding and determining it. Furthermore, by raising the issue of class within the context of her critical, self-reflexive investigation, she posed challenging questions for current debates about the relationship between feminism and popular culture.

ITEM 1997.137 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

48 Hour Beauty BlitzWendy Geller