Nancy Grossman’s masked heads have a mysteriously intimate and ominous quality to them. Her use of leather and zippers recall sexually charged images of BDSM and bondage subcultures. We gather that these figures are submissive because their heads are almost entirely covered. I have long been interested in the history of these works; surely they come from a very personal place.
It seemed appropriate to revisit Grossman’s iconic work in the light of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse/harassment case. There’s something unsettling about these works and the power dynamic they represent that seems more apparent than ever before. Although they are seemingly male gendered the artist has suggested that they are autobiographical. Grossman is compelling us to look beyond male/female dichotomy, and focus more astutely on the relationship between the sexes and the fluidity of gender. In doing so, the narrative of victim and abuser transcends binary gender roles. This puts Grossman alongside the contemporary intersectional feminist movement, where social identities are accepted as being diverse and intersect/overlap to form a whole embodied identity.
For example, when looking at the social injustices in our society: racism, sexism, classicism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, or other religious, physical, and social hatred; it is not simply an issue of one or the other. Intersectionality reflects multiple forms of discrimination. An example would be how in the light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal the response has largely focused on the cis female perspective, while not fully considering or being open to the trans female or non-gendered (gender fluid) individual. In an intersectional model, the dialog would affirm that sexism, racism, and transphobia are interwoven as issues that should be addressed simultaneously.