The Beauty Pageant News
The theme of beauty pageants as my subject for the Public Domain project came about through several search tangents. I kept coming back to the idea of missing women, of women lost in the archive. The search word “women” yielded thousands of results that, looking back fifty years or more, revealed the attitudes and directives towards women of the day. There were educational films about hygiene and grooming, on how to be a good secretary, hostess, and mother. Many films were dedicated to the important roles women played in the war effort. But time and again I came across the curious and expansive phenomenon of beauty pageants—everything from Miss Okanagan Valley proudly displaying the fruits of her region, to Miss Homemaker demonstrating her skill in ironing a shirt or baking a perfect Bundt cake. The item that launched my subject search was, however, the Miss Photographer pageant of 1961. Part of what drew me to Miss Photographer and various pageant footage was their almost direct illustration of Laura Mulvey’s notion of the male gaze, as well as how the camera moved over the women’s bodies, exposing them, examining their assets—undressing them. The first part of my video is a playful mélange of Miss Toronto and other pageants—a tongue-in-cheek structural analysis of the pageant narrative. We see dozens of contestants parading in their swimsuits before a panel of judges and thousands of on-lookers. After provocative twirling and elegant exits, finally the choosing of a winner: her astonished response, the flowers, crowing, kissing, and group photos. The second part uses a found soundtrack from the popular 1950s American radio program, “What Makes You Tick,” to examine attitudes expressed towards women of the time. The interviewee, a “Miss Bates,” is questioned about her determination to become a “career girl” as opposed to a wife and mother, and is judged by two male psychologists. Finally, the last word goes to Judy Welch, Miss Toronto of 1956. Now 74 years old, Judy reflects back on what it was like to win the pageant.
Sara Angelucci

Sara Angelucci is a photo and video artist living in Toronto. She completed her B.A. at the University of Guelph and her M.F.A. at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She has exhibited her photography across Canada including exhibitions at Le Mois de la Photo in Montreal, Ace Art in Winnipeg, Vu in Quebec City, the Toronto Photographer's Workshop, the MacLaren Art Centre, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and the Richmond Art Gallery. Her videos have been screened across Canada and included in festivals in Europe and Hong Kong. Sara has participated in artist residencies at NSCAD (Halifax), the Banff Centre and at Biz-Art in Shanghai, China. Sara's work is represented by the Wynick/Tuck Gallery and V-Tape in Toronto.
City, Province: 
Toronto, Ontario
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