INTERVIEWS


 

 

 

 

 

Here is the last in a series of interviews where Kimberly Berg discussed women's prehistoric culture and how it can serve as a model for a future society that he believes is already emerging.

Aired on Ashford Talk radio August 13, 2012

 

 


 

 

 

 

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KIMBERLY BERG INTERVIEWED BY ACTRESS GIGI ERNETA
on Ashford Talk Radio,October 28,2011



 


 

 

 

 

INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY NEW ART CENTER GALLERY, NEW YORK, January 2011

NAC: How did you become interested in feminists issues such as the treatment of women by men in our patriarchal culture?

KB: I was aware that women historically had not been treated as equals in our society. The womenís suffrage movement in the 20ís made that clear. Then in the 60ís I witnessed the flowering of the womenís liberation movement when I was living in NYC. I recognized from the beginning that this was a historical turning point for women but I didnít feel compelled to join the cause. I stood on the sidelines believing this was something women had to work out for themselves.

Then in 1997, I read WHEN THE DRUMMERS WERE WOMEN by Layne Redmond. She traced the history of drumming by women to the Paleolithic era.

She also covered the rise and fall of women as the innovators of a civil society based on female values during that time period. Although a history major, I had never known anything about the pre-historical record of womenís accomplishments and culture as described by Redmond. She also described the rise of patriarchy, beginning in 5000 BC, and how men deliberately strove to undermine the preeminence that women had once enjoyed for thousands of years.

Looking at the mistreatment of women by men from this broad historical perspective made me realize just how horrendous patriarchy really is and has been for thousands of years. Being a male and entitled to the benefits of patriarchy did nothing to lessen my contempt for it.

At this time I became personally identified with the problem. I felt a strong need to stand up for womenís personal rights. I also began thinking about how my art could address this problem,

NAC: Being a man, why does it matter to you that women be treated equally?

KB: Women are just as human as men and should be treated equally. I donít believe there is any justification for an attitude of discrimination. Such an attitude has led to unbelievable pain for many of the women in my life as well as women in general. I feel that any man with conscience should find this situation intolerable, at least I do. Men are the cause of this problem and itís essential that men participate in its solution.

NAC: How does your art address such issues as a womanís inferior self-identity within a patriarchal culture?

KB: I try to create images that will allow women to reconnect to their ancient roots. I want women to see themselves now as women did in pre-historical, pre-patriarchal times, that is, confident and in full control of their lives. I believe that women can envision themselves in our present society with that same self image of confidence, inventive spirit and can-do attitude that women demonstrated in pre-historical times. In the words of Redmond, ďWe must re-vision the past to envision the future.Ē

NAC: Do you see the artist as having a role in initiating or stimulating cultural change?

KB: I think the artist has an important role to play. By creating powerful images the artist can affect the way we see things. The artist can use such images to create an alternate reality. This reality may seem hypothetical at first but it may very well prove to be more true than what is generally accepted as reality. In this way the artist can begin to sow the seeds of cultural change. All it takes is a discerning eye and imagination.

NAC: Do you think art can help to improve our understanding of the condition of women in our world?

KB: Yes I do. The image is a very powerful tool. When used in an artistically sensitive way the artist can help people see what they are blind to or in denial of. For example, I once created a painting (Wall Street Wall) that showed a woman pushing with her hands against a high wall that was several times taller than her height. The wall was the stock quotations page from a newspaper. In this way an important message is conveyed by a simple but powerful image.

NAC: What educational role do you see your art serving?

KB: I see all my art serving an educational function: (1) to inform women of their lost heritage and (2) to release them from under the heel of patriarchy. This is especially true of my website which I understand is a popular place for home schoolers.

NAC: Why do you believe understanding womanís prehistorical record is important in the modern day world?

KB: If knowledge is power than knowledge of the past can empower us to create a future that builds on the past. For women patriarchy is a Black Hole. It is a regressive period in womenís history. To advance into the future women can not look to the modern world for a model to build on. On the other hand, the pre-historical, pre-patriarchal record offers us an inspiring model of a womenís culture based on female values that was vibrant and flourishing. It was not aggressive and torn apart by wars and conflicts, it honored all life forms, it was based on the physical and emotional support of community, it was highly innovative, it was very spiritual and didnít believe that man or women were the sum total of all things.

NAC: How does your life style of voluntary simplicity affect your art?

KB: It has affected my style. I prefer a minimalist approach to painting. I believe less is more. I believe that less makes for a more powerful image. In that spirit I use a limited palette and limited details. By limiting myself in such ways I believe I can create a more compelling image. For me everything depends on the image.

NAC: Why do you make the female figure the main subject of your art?

KB: For me the subject of my art is womenís emancipation form patriarchy.Women are the focus but not my preoccupation.

NAC: Do you think of yourself as a kind of womanís advocate, or a spiritual liberator?

KB: Yes, as an advocate. I think it is unfair to glorify a male God at the expense of thrashing the original female Goddess. I think this imbalance has created severe psychic harm upon women through the ages. When women lost their goddess they also lost their respect in society. After all if men no longer had to respect a female goddess why would they have to respect anyone female?

NAC: Does the fact that the figure is usually nude have any special relevance or meaning to your art?

KB: Paleolithic artists usually depicted the female body as nude. For women and artists who drew them the nude body was not shameful, instead, it was seen as a symbol of honor and mysterious power.

Women were proud of their bodies. It was the vessel for creating life. It was thought to be influenced by the moon. Conception was thought for many thousands of years to be caused by the moonís light shining on a womanís body.

For these reasons womenís bodies were regarded with awe and reverence. Women wanted their bodies to be seen as a constant reminder to others of their birthing power and connection to the moon.

As a 21st century artist I wish to show the same reverence for the female nude body today as Paleolithic artists once showed thousands of years ago.

NAC: What would you like to achieve as an artist?

KB: Paintings that prepare the way for a new society based on female cultural values. This would include a society based on respect for women, on community, peaceful resolution of conflicts, compassion for others, and a life style in harmony with Nature.

NAC: What kind of change would you like to see with regards to womenís emancipation world wide.

KB:I donít have confidence of seeing any further dramatic change in m life time. Because patriarchy is so deeply embedded in the cultures of the world, progress, I feel, will be slow and incremental. I donít think much change can happen until women acquire more political and economic power. As long as what little political voice women gain is neutralized by the voice of reactionaries like Palinís, I donít see how women can advance. The untold truth is that not all women buy into feminist goals. They are just as deeply wedded to the perks they get by remaining faithful to the patriarchal ideology as men are.

As long as women as a whole are divided, feminists will be fighting an uphill battle. If men begin to join the ranks of the feminists, that will send a powerful message that itís OK to question the patriarchal ideology of false assumptions. That will do more to unite women than just women talking to women.

The same dynamic played out during the 60ís battle to desegregate the blacks. When whites joined and died for the cause, it proved to the blacks that their dreams where just and legitimate and they could unite around the guarantees written in the constitution. I expect the same could happen for the womenís liberation movement.

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