Investigation Into the Psychology of Bruises
Posted by: Roy Wilbur
“Paintings of Roller Derby Butt Bruises as Feminist Badges of Honor”
The following are excerpts from an article by Carey Dunne published on Hyperallergic, February 11, 2016
For most people, a nasty bruise is something to cover up. But for female players of roller derby, a contact sport where skaters zoom around a track and try to knock each other out of bounds, a bruise —especially a bruised butt — is a badge of honor, a war wound worth bragging about. The bigger and purpler, the better. Skaters call these bruises “derby kisses” and show them off in photos they post all over social media.
The Helsinki- and London-based painter and derby skater Riikka Hyvönen was fascinated by the braggadocio of the bruised. For her painting series Derby Kisses, currently on view at Helsinki’s Gallery Saariaho Järvenpää, Hyvönen created massive, hyperrealistic, bas relief renderings of these “love bites” on leather canvasses. In a society that fetishizes unblemished skin and flawless butts, the series is a snapshot of a subculture that inverts beauty standards and embraces female toughness. The paintings read like parodies of the ubiquitous and unfortunately dubbed “Belfie,” or butt selfie.
“This project began from a realization: I wanted to capture the momentary marks, the bruises, that are seen in a completely different light in the mainstream culture than inside the subculture of derby players,” Hyvönen writes in a statement. She calls the series an “investigation into the psychology of bruises.”
Hyvönen’s first painting was inspired by a Facebook post. “‘I have a really beautiful bruise on my bum. Do you want to see a pic?’ a friend once posted on my FB wall,” Hyvönen writes. “‘It has 12 colors and is the size of my head.’ I said yes, I definitely want to have a look. She sent it to my inbox. It turned out to be at least as impressive as she had threatened. In the end, this comment of hers also became the name of the work.” Now, derby girls from around the world send the artist photos of their bruised butts, posing in thongs or glittery spandex short shorts, and she turns some of them into art.
Image: Riikka Hyvönen, “I Got a Really Beautiful Bruise on My Bum, Do You Want To See a Pic It Has 12 Colours And Is the Size of My Head!,” (2015), acrylic on leather and MDF. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Saariaho Järvenpää, Helsinki