Girlhood and the Plastic Image

I have been wondered what young girl means in the art world, what being infantile, girlhood means in the artwork. More detail, I was wondering what young girl's position as an identity in the art world. I looked into two books - Beautiful fighting girl, Girlhood and the Plastic image. The reason for reading beautiful fighting girl is I am interested in Japanese magical girl anime. Somehow it influences me recently on how to approach the embodiment of prolonged adolescence. As the one who researches this idea, I had to think of my identity as an artist.

So, generally speaking, a 'girl' is the most powerful icon that evokes the commodity of many commercials - people use girlification to reinforce and fix a young girl's unstable identity- it can be altered, changed, variable, like a plastic. Is a really young girl instable? I don't know. I am the one fluctuating, but, I guess being a girl is not the main factor of doing up and down. It is just my character. My father does the same. But still, I kind of agree that girls are expected to be in an 'unfinished process of personal development.' (Warren-crow, 2014), especially in digital media. Due to proliferating commercials and digital platforms that use the girly images to promote them, girls are more and more thought to be -- infantile, pretty, vulnerable, delicate.


infantile, pretty, vulnerable, delicate.


French Artist Pierre Huyghe bought the copyright of Anlee in attempt to experience how the girl image would be created by other artists. Anlee is the main character of No Ghost Just a Shell. She's mainly understood by the long-standing feminisation and brutal infantilisation of girl-products. For the process, he allowed the artists to use Anlee's image and to change media, form, everything freely. This idea stemmed from the understanding of girl's plastic (variable) identity as a state of potentiality. As a result, the project performed girlishness through more than 25 different individual works. As if a digital image can be modified and transformed by one click, the girl image has been created in various ways. Here we can see Manovich's principle of variability embraces girlishness as the formal condition of digital identity. (Warren-crow, 2014) In other words, the participating artists embodied Anlee's girliness in individual polymorphous artworks. I think the experience is quite interesting, but, the results were actually anticipated. I wonder why Anlee: the shared image should be a girl. And here is the answer: Anlee's girlish figure was used to connect girl, media, commodification.

Ann Lee in ANZEN ZONE , DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ-FOERSTER, 2001

Annlee, Mircea Cantor, I Am Still Alive, 2004



Interestingly, Huyghe denied that Anlee is a she. Anlee is an image, a product. This statement conceals the complexity of the rhetorical mechanisms that girl both images and products. Although he refused the girliness of Anlee, No Ghost Just a Shell asserts the girl products should be loved. Through loved, they can be changed. And through alteration, they can be emancipated. This may be how society treats girl. Thus, Anlee's girliness represents a digital image that should be networked.


It is bad to understand how girl image is used in contemporary society. What I anticipated from the book was some explanations and examples of kitschy girly imagery in which I am interested. But the contents were full of misogyny. I don't like the way artists, commercial treat girliness. Still, I think the media is trying their best to fix the general concept of girl (virginity, instability).