I love this panel for Black Widow’s lips and mask. First of all, her lips are outrageous. They’re so bee-stung and voluptuous, I actually find them a bit frightening. The fact is that they’re too beautiful, too alluring, the implication being that Black Widow becomes more beautiful, more inviting, when she’s suffering. Her lips are a blatant, extravagant exploitation of a woman out of control—in the throes of passion. In this, her lips advertise the sexualization of her pain.
But her mask makes things more complicated. The way I see it, Black Widow’s mask gives her a degree of control over her own exploitation. It splits her face in half and acts as a barrier between herself and the world, between her own complex subjectivity and the gaze(s) that can never quite corral it. Her mask disrupts her fetishization by forcing us to contemplate her motives for wearing it.
For this series of prints, I tried to enhance the multi-layered-ness of the original image by juxtaposing a Caucasian woman with a red-eyed robot and a green-skinned alien. The goal was to consider the contradictory (or complimentary?) universality and particularity of differently contextualized images of the same stereotypically beautiful female face.