Love or Hegemony?
Romance as a literary genre is traditionally geared towards female, and increasingly queer, audiences’ fantasies of escape and desire. The canon, however, continues to revolve around tropes that recreate and reinforce the often racist, patriarchal, and capitalist hegemony from which it purports to provide an escape.
Why are even our fantasies confined by hegemonic thinking? Can we imagine iterations of escape and pleasure that exist beyond the limits of our social structures, and in so doing, subvert them?
Love or Hegemony? is a visual art exhibition working with camp aesthetics and the cringe factor of romance novels. The project aims to critically examine the ways in which we engage with pop cultural mediums that fail to represent us in any meaningful way, yet continue to provide pleasure.
This project is supported by The Arts Promotion Center Finland (Taike)
Outo Olo Gallery | Helsinki | 2022
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About The Project
Love or Hegemony? is the first iteration of an ongoing research project into the politics of romance and popular depictions of desire, sexuality, and love.
The collage style artworks draw on over 100 romance novels arcing across the history of the genre, with books published between 1947 and 2021. The selection aims to reflect both the incredibly wide range of sub-genres, niche interests, and identities that can be reflected in the world of romance, as well as the over-abundance of hetero-normative, white, and patriarchal relationships represented in mainstream romance publishing.
The source materials consist of quotations and cover art taken from the romance novels, information from publisher and author websites, reader reviews and comments from internet forums, as well as reviews and reading lists from popular magazines and websites, and articles from various academic publications critically engaging with the topic of romance.
This iteration of the research project focuses on romance written in the English language and published primarily within North America and The U.K.. This is due to the artist’s own language accessibility to the source material as well as the early colonial roots of the mainstream romance industry. Future iterations working with translated novels and local scholarship on untranslated works from multiple international contexts are in process.
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