In the Doghouse, 1973
Hannah Wilke is recognized as a pioneer of feminist art, though in her time her confrontational use of her own body and satire of glamour modeling sometimes put her at odds with the feminist community. The artist was among the first to explore “essentialist art”, tying the female experience to the image of the vagina, which she rendered in folded clay, hanging latex, kneaded erasers, chewed bubble gum, or rolled-up laundry lint and stuck to photographs, postcards, and her body by the dozens. Such works recast phallocentric stereotypes in terms of female eroticism and transformed penis envy into what Wilke called “Venus Envy”. As living sculpture, she created the “Performalist Self-Portraits”, acting out performances for photographers to capture. Her interest in the body took a somber turn as she documented her own battle with cancer.