About the exhibition

Showgirl Manifesto emerged from the recently published book Viewing Pleasure and Being a Showgirl, How do I Look? published by Alison J Carr. In the book, Carr contextualises showgirl experiences, framing their relevance for contemporary feminism, artists and performers. The book interprets a range of live performances to develop a bold, original approach to bodily display and pleasure.  The affirmative text prompts sisterly connections between viewer and performer. The book’s conclusion, ‘Showgirl Manifesto’, forms the inspiration for this exhibition.

Viewing Pleasure and Being a Showgirl, How do I look? and Showgirl Manifesto raise questions about how the showgirl is represented, the nature of the pleasure that she elicits, the suspicion that surrounds it, and what this means for feminism and the act of looking. In particular, Carr argues that images of women are linked to selling and that women’s bodies have been commodified in capitalist culture, potentially enabling particular bodies – those of glamorous women on display – to become scapegoats for deeper anxieties about consumerism.

Showgirl Manifesto included work in the media of photography and print by: Allie Carr, Chloe Nightingale, Isabella Streffen, Alice Finch, Sophie Lisa Beresford, Sharon Kivland, Julie Cook, Lucy Halstead, Laura Gonzalez, Nwando Ebizie and Britten Leigh.

About the researcher

Dr Alison J Carr is an artist and writer and a Lecturer in Contemporary Art and Illustration, in the Department of Art and Communication at the University of Huddersfield. Carr’s art practice-based research disrupts the stream of images of women that we are surrounded by across media and which reiterate the connection between perfect female bodies and commodification.

Carr studied for an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts, absorbing both the critical dialogue and the lure of the Hollywood facade. She worked with Leslie Dick, Natalie Bookchin, Ellen Birrell and Jo Ann Callis, developing her critical voice as well as her singing voice (taking singing lessons so that she could sing ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ by Laura Mulvey). After returning to the UK, Carr was awarded a PhD from Sheffield Hallam University in 2013. The exhibition Showgirl Manifesto and the book Viewing Pleasure and Being a Showgirl, How do I Look? were based on her thesis titled How Do I Look? Viewing, Embodiment, Showgirls & Art Practice.

Carr has shown her work internationally in LA, Indiana, and Berlin, and nationally in London, Sheffield, Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester and Blackpool. Recent commissions include a new performance for S1 Artspace / Making Ways for the Construction House season of events, staged at DINA, Sheffield.