New Criticals

As a Beyoncé fan who is electrified by her outspoken feminist statements, it is frustrating to see this opportunity lost, even if it is a tribute to the artist.  Overt acknowledgement of Rist’s influence may have simply fallen victim to the casual erasure of women’s work that happens every day in media, however.  The multi–layered Lemonade is so rich with allusions that it is hard to keep track of them and endlessly delightful to discover them (for example, in the #LemonadeSyllabus compiled by Candice Benbow).  It may be that a producer simply liked Rist’s compelling vision, saw it once and filed it away. Not many people are active followers of women artists, as a matter of fact, chances are fairly good that most art-goers can’t even name a woman artist if asked. For someone who saw it, but was not focused on the larger issues, such as a lack of recognition for women’s art and the broader cultural erasure of women’s work, that would be par for the course.

From this perspective, it is particularly problematic that the majority of writers and producers on Lemonade are men, for whom feminism and women’s power and success, beyond Beyoncé’s, may not actually be a core, commercial, concern.  Only 10% of writers of credited on the album are women and women make up only 11% of producers, including Beyoncé herself.  It’s a little ironic considering that video as a medium has provided women artists with unparalleled freedom from the traditional woman-denying male-dominated canon. 

Note: There is no official Rist Video, but here is one on YouTube that has more than 200K views.