Maya Ben David ✿✿✿

cybertwee HQ virtual artist talk series

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

♡♡ cybertwee ♡♡ is excited to announce our fourth virtual artist talk, this time welcoming Maya Ben David to the “stage” !~*

In this cybertwee HQ virtual artist-talk series, we are super stoked to have the artists in the <<.:*cybertwee HQ*:.>> give us the behind-the-scenes scoop on their artwork in the show, & tell us about their influences, process, and how their work intersects with #cybertwee!

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧ .・゜゜・ ・゜゜・. 。

Maya Ben David (MBD) will present an artist talk about her video/performance-based practice. She will be focusing on the role of the “grotesque woman” in cartoons and cartoon-like objects and how these representations contribute to ideas of violence against women. She will be examining both physical objects such as the “rubber chicken” as well as animated cartoons. Much of the focus will be on the Pokémon franchise because of its vast use of anthropomorphism and because of Ben David’s personal connection to it. Ben David will go into detail about how gender, femininity and race is constructed in the Pokémon universe.

MBD is a Toronto-based video and performance artist. Through video she draws attention to moments in animation, film and popular culture that explore simulations of the “real” and sentience through appropriated and nostalgic media. Ben David’s practice often explores online fan communities that involve anthropomorphized/sexualized fictional characters. Ben David is able to gender-bend and give new narratives to well known cartoon characters by making her own Fan Art and Cosplay in her digital work.

The examination of anthropomorphism plays a large role in Ben David’s practice. Anthropomorphism is when you attribute human like characteristics to objects or animals. Often the way animals and objects are personified reinforces already preexisting hetero normative values of gender, sexuality and race. The rendering of anthropomorphized and personified animals is not coincidental or random. Very often certain species of animals are attributed to a gender based on pre-conceived ideas of femininity/masculinity. For example; personified cats are often rendered as women and dogs as men. This systematically casts women as animals of prey and men as predators.

Ben David works to deconstruct these signifiers that are so prominent in cartoons in an affectionate way through cosplaying and making “fan art”, always carefully considering how she is dealing with animated women’s bodies. This allows her to stand in solidarity with these characters that are so often mistreated and poorly represented.