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Sulking RoomEnlarge image

Sulking Room, 1987

Jana Sterbak
Czechoslovakian, Canadian, 1955
white embroidery on black felt
137.2 x 182.9 cm maximum irregular
Gift of Ydessa Hendeles, Toronto, 1993
National Gallery of Canada (no. 37582)

The term “boudoir” originated in the eighteenth century to describe a room in which aristocratic women could retire to be alone. Revealing the history of the word (from the French "bouder"), Sterbak suggests a more subversive use of this room. While the idea of sulking often connotes a negative stereotype of female behaviour, it can also suggest a way of manipulating or controlling a situation by withdrawing. The sulking room becomes a private, feminine space where women are able to exercise a certain degree of power, and can seclude themselves, evading the public sphere.

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