Maddy Plimmer

No Romance on the Pedestal

No Romance on the Pedestal
2021
Mixed media sculpture
Saatchi Gallery

The digital 3D asset used to construct these heels is pulled directly from a mobile game that features a feminine protagonist wearing heels of exponentially increasing height, delicately stepping through an obstacle course. As objects, they serve to fill the aching void opened by castration complex; yet simultaneously illustrate passing the tipping point of an infinite growth arc for femininity. This work aims to recontextualize pivotal feminist texts within current online culture, and consider the deeper significance of the imagery the algorithm uses to seduce us.

Laura Mulvey’s 1972 text ‘Fears, Fantasies and the Male Unconscious’ links the work of Allen Jones to Freud’s theory of castration complex. Mulvey argues that fetish gear serves the purpose of resolving a man’s horror when confronted with a nude woman, as he is reminded of the ever-present threat of castration. Due to their elongated form, heels serve as a surrogate phallus, where there otherwise is none. These impossibly tall heels evidence her argument, as the more phallic these shoes become, the more they come to symbolize hyperfemininity. So do the trappings of femininity exist for their own sake, or are they driven by masculine insecurities?

Exhibited:

MFA Degree Show, Goldsmiths University, 2021 [1st edition] *sold

London Grads Now.21, Saatchi Gallery, 2021–2022 [2nd edition] *sold

The Metaphysics of Femininity, Unit 2, Thames-side Studios, 2021 [3rd edition] *not for sale