I can only speak for myself, but the concept never arrives fully formed out of nowhere.
I can never put my finger on one thing, it’s usually one tiny thing that drops into place to make sense of the rest, but on top of many other things. The other things could be other people (I think a lot about other people and how they tick) or conversations, or things I read, and bear witness to. To bear witness seems the right phrase over watch or see, more active that passive.
The way a song is written can be a sort of shorthand for this, a modelling: sometimes you wake up all Paul McCartney, with Yesterday in your head, but mostly it is piecemeal. A title. A sentence. A chorus, a melody, a hook… can arrive in any order. These ingredients can hang around for years until they find the right mates…
It’s the same with visual art concepts. They sit around a while just waiting for the right seasoning to bring them to life. I’ve learned to trust this process.
I’m not quite sure when the phrase “The Tenth Woman” first appeared in my mind. I used it in a previous post on 3rd May.
I always said about “nine women” that “we are all in there somewhere”. It was a truth, but not the whole picture. Certainly in its latest showing, I started to think more deeply that it was more than that. I started to look at exactly how much of these stories were mine, or had been filtered through my own mind… other lives interpreted through my lens, or just plain old me. I came to the conclusion that the work was deeper than I was, or had acknowledged at the time of making. Now the work is made, I look at women rather more carefully. And I am certainly looking at myself more carefully. This might seem a bit of an ego trip, but I hope not. It’s just that I’m the woman I know best.
What I’m thinking is that The Tenth Woman is a thing, a concept, a title… it might end up being a piece of work, or might end up just being the way I go about the work – a newly awakened methodology. It isn’t fully formed yet… but I’m inhabiting it. I also feel it is perhaps something I can invite other women to inhabit. Perhaps I might write a manifesto! (Hahahaha).
I have recently seen other women, strong, creative, amazing women brought down by a little negative comment that becomes outrageously enormous, because it happens to have pressed a particularly sensitive button. I suppose I’m suggesting that if my manifesto begins:
1. I Shall Take Ownership Of All My Own Buttons
Then maybe it won’t be so easy for other people to surprise us and derail the positive thinking?
“Why don’t you dye your hair?”
“You could do with losing weight”
“You should get in with those people, they’re doing it right”
“Aren’t you a bit old to be singing in pubs?”
2. I Shall Address My Own Sensitivities And Then Tell Them All To Fuck Off.
I think, being The Tenth Woman means owning yourself, and doing whatever the hell it is that makes you purr.
So, sisters… A Call To Arms: Be The Tenth Woman.