Although representation in the art world is still highly skewed towards straight white men, more and more strides are being made to help equalize representation in terms of gender, sexuality, and race. But another underrepresented social group is entering the fight for balanced representation. Fatter IRL: a fat art show tells all in the title: the ongoing group exhibition brings together 12 artists who identify as fat, giving them a space and a voice at the former Pfizer Plant in Brooklyn, provided by the team at Re:Art.
Curated by artist and writer Rose Budz, Fatter IRL presents an eclectic range of mediums, as can be seen through Rochelle Brock's Nan Goldin-esque photography, kitsch monochrome illustrations by Rachele Cateyes, Jinhee Kwak's bodily sculpture, and many other works in the show. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the works on display feature fat bodies as prominent elements, appropriately taking advantage of this opportunity to bring awareness not just to a marginalized group, but to forms traditionally disregarded in contemporary art as well.
Budz claims that there was no curatorial intervention on her part that caused the work to be body-centric: “[Choosing work that highlights fat bodies] was not actually my original intent when selecting work. I think it is telling that marginalized people frequently make work about their identity-based experiences,” the curator tells The Creators Project. “When a facet of your identity dominates your existence, it will most likely manifest itself in your practice. Fat people constantly HAVE to think about being fat; there is no choice but to deal with it, so it isn’t surprising that many fat people are making wok about their lived realities.”
Echoing what is arguably a larger problem of society in general, Budz mentions the correlation between being attractive and successful in the art world: “People with non-normative bodies are not given the same opportunities or voice as people who society deems to be more physically attractive. Beauty politics ensure that ‘good looking people’ receive the most honored positions or high social standings,” Budz explains. “I feel that the art world, as progressive as it hails itself to be, still has issues with access and representation and the neglect fat artists is one of them. Even art that is promoted as queer or feminist usually feature thin, conventionally attractive, white women.”
But the curator argues that even visibility for fat people can be problematic: “For fat people, visibility is a double-edged sword. Seeing other fat people loving or being okay with their bodies, being loved by others and thriving is validating and inspiring. However, visibility for fat people can often take the form of vicious bullying and critique, especially on the Internet,” adds Budz. “This issue isn’t discussed because the idea of fat people living without shame, or that someone could actively desire fat bodies, is uncomfortable and in some cases enraging to people.”
FATTER IRL: a fat art show will be on view at Re:Art, located at 630 Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn, until November 5th.