Exhibitionists·In Residence

This artist duo is subverting the standards of beauty one GIF at a time

Toronto artists Allison + Cam are all about drawing boobs, butts and hairy babes. Armpit hair has never been this cute.

Why Toronto's Allison + Cam are all about drawing boobs, butts and hairy babes

Subverting beauty ideals one GIF at a time. (Tumblr/Allison and Cam)

Babes, babes, babes.

Hairy ones, especially.

They're Allison + Cam's favourite subject, and apologies to Lola Kirke and her headline-grabbing Golden Globes look, but all-natural pits have never been this cute.

That's kind of the point, explains 29-year-old Allison Burda, one half of this Toronto-based art duo, and you'll see more of their work Sunday on the new episode of Exhibitionists.

Flashing an unmanicured underarm is still a political statement. (Again, please see Lola Kirke at the Golden Globes.) But somehow, Burda finds, it's a lot easier to confront a charged topic — whether it's body image, sex or periods — when it's served with a pocketful of craft glitter.

"It's funny and it's quick and it's cute [...] but it's still saying something.- Allison Burda, artist

Since 2010, Burda and her husband Cameron Gee have collaborated on animation and illustrations, with a growing list of editorial clients including Today's Parent and The Hairpin. Everything in their process is shared equally, she says, from the concept stage to sketching to animating the final product in Photoshop.

A lot of people are surprised to learn they're not, in fact, an all-woman duo, she says — understandable given their frequently feminist subject matter. "We're able to work through our ideas a lot better when we're working together, which is something we found out early on," she tells CBC Arts. (Neither Burda nor Gee went to art school; while they were first getting to know each other, they spent so much of their free time making things — greeting cards, stop-motion animation, etc. — and they eventually turned it into a career.)

"We're both pretty political," Burda tells CBC Arts. "At a dinner party you can get into a pretty uncomfortable conversation with me about stuff."

"But I don't want it to be so heavy all the time."

Toronto duo Allison + Cam. (Tumblr/Allison + Cam)

That's where their work comes in.

Allison + Cam's preferred palette is straight out of the Kool-Aid aisle, full of cheerful yellows and purples and fruit-punch pinks, and their cartoons seem just as sweet. Ordinary, day-to-day anxieties typically serve as inspiration for their GIFs of silly sight gags. But there's usually a little extra something added to each image, something that's meant to subvert.

Maybe it's a "freed" nipple. Maybe it's the ordinary, but nevertheless taboo, idea they're illustrating — masturbation or menstruation. Maybe it's a prickly leg or bikini line.

"Someone who doesn't necessarily think of themselves as a feminist, they can see one of our animations and think, 'That's really funny and colourful and cute.' And maybe they'll want to share it."

"If they reblog it, they'll possibly make others a little more comfortable with seeing a woman with body hair."

They're trying to subvert the standard of beauty, one cartoon pin-up girl at a time.

Says Burda: "It's funny and it's quick and it's cute, and you don't have to think about it a ton, but it's still saying something."

Check out some of Allison + Cam's work.

See more work from Allison + Cam on their website and on the new episode of ExhibitionistsWatch online or Sunday at 4:30 (5 p.m. NT) on CBC Television.

Want to see your creations on CBC Arts? Just send us an email! You could be an Exhibitionist in Residence this season.


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