Summary

This is one of a series of enlarged double-page spreads from tabloid newspapers, the titles of which are taken from the headlines (see Tate P78205 and P78207-8). Lucas became frustrated with the minimalist-influenced sculpture she had been making at Goldsmith's College at the end of the 1980s, which involved costly materials and an aesthetic that she did not feel was hers. Inspired by reading books on feminism, pornography and sexuality she turned to a cheaper and more immediate source of imagery that she felt was more relevant to her: the tabloid press. Here she began to explore the representation of and attitudes towards the female body in popular culture. She realised she had conflicting feelings about this, since she identified herself as a viewer with the traditionally male desiring eye and as a woman being objectified and dehumanised through her cultural representation. She began to use the imagery of popular culture's attitudes to women as the material and subject of her work. Her art functions as a mirror which reflects back unconscious and pervasive attitudes by highlighting their manifestation, usually through literal representation.

'I use sexist attitudes because they are there to be used. I get strength from them …With only minor adjustments, a provocative image can become confrontational - converted from an offer of sexual service into a castration image … I'm dipping into the culture, pointing a finger: directing attention to what's there.' (Lucas quoted in Young British Artists II, [pp.3-4].) Lucas's selection of pages from tabloids exposes and ridicules the voice of male misogyny by allowing it to speak without mediation. She has picked particularly extreme and ridiculous examples of working-class male attitudes towards women, albeit entirely in character with the overall tone of the newspapers. Each main text about sex in these double-spreads, which document fantasised male and female insatiability, is supported by a shorter article covering dishonest and criminal acts, all perpetrated by men, which further undermines the masculine voice. Seven Up (taken from The Sport) features a row of seven topless women who are suggestively offered for the reader's consumption by the subtitle 'You can have it every day'. All the other texts on the page offer 'sex contacts' in the form of telephone numbers, 'raw explicit action' and 'all new girls'. Two of Lucas's double-spreads were shown as giant photocopied posters in her first solo exhibition at City Racing, London, called Penis Nailed to a Board (1992).

Further reading:
Young British Artists II, exhibition catalogue, Saatchi Collection, London 1993, [pp.3-4]
Gordon Burn, 'Sister Sarah', Guardian Weekend, November 23 1996, pp.26-33
Sarah Lucas, exhibition catalogue, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1996, reproduced p.17

Elizabeth Manchester
August 2000