Don’t You Dare

Louella Michael

Don’t You Dare is an interactive installation work that critiques responses to feminine power and anger. The work employs childish, playful cuteness and sinister passivity to highlight the common dismissal and mischaracterisations of feminine power. Three near-identical disembodied doll-faces are mounted on the gallery wall with labels aesthetically reminiscent of children’s vocab cards categorising two of the passive faces as ‘hysterical’ and ‘feisty’. Spare thumbtacks and an envelope containing synonyms encourages a game of matching the words to the faces. Scattered through these words commonly used to dismiss and belittle feminine assertiveness, are realities of these misrepresentations such as ‘in-control’, ‘independent’ and ‘knowledgeable’. The lumping together of these differing words and the arbitrary nature of assigning them to completely passive faces conveys both the control or suppression of power or strong feelings and the inevitability of being so-labelled when asserting your power regardless. The sterile gallery space amplifies the sinister mass-produced passivism of the dolls while the vocab game further implies this insidious continuation and passing of on these dismissive sentiments.