By Gina Birch
Judith Bernstein importantly uses humour in her work. It is a salvation, it is a life force. In the 1970s, being called a feminist was challenging. We were supposed to be humourless.
The patriarchy seems to have always wanted to undermine the women's movement, calling it 'sour', 'bitter', 'ugly', 'hairy', and all the things that young women don't want to be associated with. It is, and was, a hard slog to get out from under that. It is important to have an 'I don't care' attitude to operate in the face of this, but humour is our weapon.
“Laughter is almost like an ejaculation ... you laugh and the emotion goes out and it's a release."
Sometimes you need to shout out loud.
Judith Bernstein's giant screws are at once full of humour and anger. This anger flows through the works, productively. And they are multi-layered: they identify the patriarchy, they play with that power, and they also play with scale. The man-sized scale of the abstract expressionists, the man-sized scale of knowing you are important. Do not wilt, do not hide away. Put your head above the parapet. Be mocked, be insulted, be there. As the Guerrilla Girls say “Anger is a good place to start.” Along with this, bring your courage, your humour, your biography – those thoughts you may have dismissed as being too out there – that don't fit in. Bring those with you and paint and draw them large.