Thursday, October 26, 2006
Sisters Are Doing It By Themselves
I never had a female role model when I was growing up. I didn't come across anyone I admired enough. It wasn't just that I wanted them to be an artist. They also had to be self-sufficient, smart, creative, ambitious (in every sense of the word) and passionate: in other words, eveything I wanted to be.For a while, I lost faith in the much-vaunted achievements of late 20th century feminism. We used to tell ourselves, "We girls can do anything!" – so often and to so little effect that the line has been reduced to a cliché barely worthy of a marketing campaign for the latest generation of Barbie dolls. I knew, still know, a lot of very capable women but lately I've been less and less convinced that any of them are really driven enough to take on the hard work necessary to actualise their wildest ambitions. "Be who you wanna be", we're told (again, most often by Barbie advertisements). Instead, we tend to be what we can be with the least amount of effort and sacrifice.I've been looking through Invitation, a huge, coffee-table book celebrating the life and performances of French ballet dancer, Sylvie Guillem. I've also been reading about her online, mainly bits and pieces from her quirky, fuck-you cool website. As Jenny Gilbert writes, in Who Is Sylvie?, a profile for The Independent newspaper, "Contradictoriness seems to have become Guillem's special study."I love that she's classically trained, technically and creatively exceptional, and yet rebellious, intelligent, risk-taking and, sometimes, almost childishly playful. Whatever I was once looking for in a role model, I've found it in Sylvie Guillem.