“In your note on my new and happy marital partnership with David Bale, you credit me with the witticism ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ In fact, Irina Dunn, a distinguished Australian educator, journalist and politician, coined the phrase back in 1970 when she was a student at the University of Sydney. She paraphrased the philosopher who said, “Man needs God like fish needs a bicycle.” Dunn deserves credit for creating such a popular and durable spoof of the old idea that women need men more than vice versa.”
Letter to Time Magazine in 2000.
The Fish and Bicycle series employs a similar strategy as my Men at Work series. This time the subject matter includes both men and women (exhibited in pairs) representing a range of gender identities. The title is derived from Irina Dunn’s witty statement (often erroneously attributed to Gloria Steinem), “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” The metaphoric use of a variety of bicycles and fish add layers – figuratively and literally – to the complex relationship between the figures when viewed collectively.
These works examine the nature of masculinity and femininity in a society where an all-pervasive concept of beauty and power permeates popular culture and art in ways that create self-perpetuating societal myths. With these paintings I beg the question: “Just what is male and female?”