“The straight jacket I designed and made out of hot pink acetate satin. (It was to be of silk but at $32.00 a yard what can a poor girl do!) The camera is stationary and the focus fixed; it is the straight jacket and the single light source that move.” – Kate Craig
Within “Straight Jacket,” Kate Craig provides a commentary upon the problematics of the expected social gestures of the female body while referencing the notions of the glamour, power and the banality of mass culture.
Speaking about the work, Craig states, “take away and lock me up. Ideology is for fools. It fits me oh so perfectly and keeps me calm and cool.”
Following the death of her persona Lady Brute, Craig fabricated a new identity using the colour pink. It was a colour rooted in the traditional conceptions of femininity yet open to subversion and reinterpretation. As Craig explains: “As a woman, why would you associate yourself with pink if you had any kind of feminist point of view? It was sort of retro.”¹ Pairing the institutional apparatus of the straight jacket with the “out-of-dateness” of the colour pink, allowed for traditional conceptions of femininity to be framed as ridiculous.
With no identity given to the figure, the viewer’s attention is focused upon the purpose of the straight jacket: a device not only inhibiting movement but preventing any dangerous gestures. Without being able to break the confines of the straight jacket, the figure ultimately yields to the absurd apparatus to model that which binds her.
With the generous support of the BC History Digitization Program at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, this work has been photographed.
¹Arnold, Grant. Kate Craig: Skin. (Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1998). 8.