About the work

SARAH LUCAS

ABOUT THE WORK


   SARAH LUCAS
     Got a Salmon On in the street #3, 2001
R-type photography
152,4 x 152,4 cm
In a large number of self-portraits Sarah Lucas has challenged sexual stereotypes and gender representations. She depicts herself deliberately androgynously, wearing heavy boots, denims and t-shirts and in addition her poses are more masculine than feminine.

FISH AND ERECTION
The piece's ambiguous title illustrates Lucas' penchant for visual puns, utilising the relationship between a work and its title. The title frequently adds a new meaning or an extra dimension to the work.

'Salmon' is slang for a woman's genitalia while 'got a salmon on' is a reworking of the phrase 'got a hard on', a reference to the male erection.

Thus the title merges male and female sexuality – just as the person in the street appears as a combination of man and woman, uniting male and female sexuality.
Lucas has remarked on the merging of the feminine and the masculine in her self-portraits: "I suddenly could see the strength of the masculinity – the usefulness of it to the subject struck me at that point, and since then I've used that."

ARKEN's work Got a Salmon On in the Street #3 is one of a large number of self-portraits that Lucas has created since the early 1990s. In 1994 Lucas executed nine square photographs of a man with a beer can, all of which were titled Got a Salmon On (Prawn).

Like ARKEN's piece, the series depicts a naked man opening a can of beer and in the last sequences squirting the beer foam all over. The man in the photograph is Gary Hume, Lucas' former boyfriend, here the object of Lucas' witty play with the relationship between words and image.

In yet another picture from the series Got a Salmon On Lucas is standing in front of a public lavatory, a large salmon slung over her shoulder which she is offering with her left hand (Got a Salmon On #3, 1997). This finds her literally with a salmon on!

LOW RENT HUMOUR
Her expression is a composite of a moral stance on the occasionally misogynist and sensational portrayal of women in mass media and in chauvinist jokes and a genuine fascination with the same. Lucas likes to refer to her working class background in her choice of locations, of objects for her sculptures and more generally in the overall tone of her works.

Her œuvre is a critical interpretation of that sort of jokes, but at the same time a witty commentary in its own right. She mixes the witty, the sarcastic, the sexual and the abject in her portrayal of an alternative female identity.
 
Sarah Lucas' art in general
Lucas often employs metaphors that represent or symbolise sexual body parts. These metaphors are frequently food or furniture which she utilises as ready-mades, attributing new meanings to them.

She detourns the original significance of the before so innocent food, resulting in crude and often overtly sexual connotations.Lucas' exploration of the relationship between word and image is an art historical parallel to the conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s.

NEW STANDARDS OF FEMININE ART
Lucas' works (photography, sculpture and installation) are brimming with irony and sarcasm with regards to what is allowed – first and foremost for a female artist. Along with other women of her generation, e.g. Sam Taylor-Wood and Tracey Emin, she has set new standards of female art, mindful of the feminist tradition.

Taylor-Wood and Lucas especially have been implacable in challenging female sexuality and self-knowledge and our expectations of them: Lucas by adopting a deliberately mannish identity in her works that some people perceive as typically lesbian, Taylor-Wood by portraying herself as a 'slut'.

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