Performance Artist Imitates Gustav Courbet’s Painting”The Origin of the World” By Exposing Herself

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On May 29 at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Luxembourgian performance artist Deborah de Robertis, wearing a gold sequined dress, plopped down in front of Gustav Courbet’s painting “The Origin of the World,” and spread her legs and vaginal lips, publicly exposing herself. The artist’s intent was to re-enact the famous painting, but with an open, exposed vagina in contrast to the vagina presented in Courbet’s piece. Eventually, de Robertis was escorted from the premises by police officers, and two museum guards filed sexual exhibitionist complaints against her after the incident.

“This is a typical case of disrespecting the museum’s rules, whether for a performance or not,” the Musée d’Orsay’s administration said in a statement. “No request for authorization was filed with us. And even if it had been, it’s not certain we would have accepted it as that may have upset our visitors.”

de Robertis, of course, disagrees with these accusations (as does Banksy). “If you ignore the context, you could construe this performance as an act of exhibitionism, but what I did was not an impulsive act,” she explained to Luxemburger Wort. “There is a gap in art history, the absent point of view of the object of the gaze. In his realist painting, the painter shows the open legs, but the vagina remains closed. He does not reveal the hole, that is to say, the eye. I am not showing my vagina, but I am revealing what we do not see in the painting, the eye of the vagina, the black hole, this concealed eye, this chasm, which, beyond the flesh, refers to infinity, to the origin of the origin.”

de Robertis says she’s performed this piece, “Mirror of Origin,” more than once in the same museum without causing a hysteric scene, and unsurprisingly, this is not the first time a performance artist has imitated a famous work of art by exposing their body: last year, performance artist Arthur G stripped down and appeared in front of Musée d’Orsay’s parade of male nudes, “Masculin/Masculin.” It is also not unusual for female performance artists to use their bodies as a medium for messages about our culture and the way it conceptualizes female anatomy and sexuality: I’m thinking of recent Beautiful/Decay features, like Milo Moire’s vaginal egg-dropping and Casey Jenkins’ vaginal knitting. The reactions garnered from such performances reflect our culture’s current conception of female anatomy and sexuality and prove that our stripped-bare biology continues to be seen as obscene, threatening, and attention-seeking, even within performance-based contexts. (via art fido)

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James Franco’s Name Brand Celebrity Status Continues To Result In Gallery Shows

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A couple of weeks ago, we posted James Franco’s self-portraiture imitating Cindy Sherman’s 1970s student project photographs in which she impersonates the roles of iconic women in film; these photographs are on view at PACE Gallery until May 3. A testament to the receptiveness of audiences to Franco’s work, this post performed quite well. Franco has now imitated another artist for work to be displayed at PACE, following the Cindy Sherman imitations, but this time, without (yet) giving proper credit.

In 2011, Christopher Schulz self-published a 32-page book of Seth Rogen fan art; Franco’s upcoming gallery show features nude paintings of Rogen, some that appear to be directly based on (read: copied from) Schulz’s portraits. ArtNet notes that this new work has not been very warmly received by the internet; Huffington Post condemns Franco for “continuing to engage in what some view as blatant homophobia, because comedy,” Dlisted calls Franco a “douchier Shia LaDouche,” and A.V. Club claims the paintings are plagiarism.

At this point, James Franco has delved into many different worlds: academia (once a graduate student in 4 programs at the same time), soap opera, television, and film acting, film-making, fiction and pseudo-academic writing, and performance art. I try not to be annoyed by people, especially artists of all stripes, but James Franco is one person I can barely tolerate at this point. Aside from playing the role of Alien in “Spring Breakers,” I can’t really get on board with anything he is pursuing (especially the “critical” essays he writes for Vice wherein he makes obvious arguments that lack depth). I don’t know what to think about him, and I’m beginning to feel jaded with his pursuits. No one seems to know if Franco takes himself seriously, or if anyone should. Some have even speculated that his recent, creepy propositioning of a minor was performance art, or a marketing ploy for his latest film.

In 2010, Sam Anderson, writing for New York Magazine, conducts a critical investigation into Franco’s life, exploring his Hollywood career as performance art and asking a few questions that are central and just as pertinent to our current experience of Franco in 2014:

(1) Can James Franco possibly be for real?

(2) If he is, then—just logistically—how is all this possible?

(3) And perhaps the biggest mystery of all: Why is Franco doing it? Are his motives honest or dishonest? Neurotic or healthy? Arrogant or humble? Ironic or sincere? Naïve or sophisticated? Should we reward him with our attention or punish him with our contempt? Is he genuinely trying to improve himself or is he just messing with us—using celebrity itself as the raw material for some kind of public prank?

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Marco Scozzaro Photographs Of Men And Women Wearing Nude Tights (NSFW)

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Brooklyn-based photographer Marco Scozzaro creates Mirror Neurons, a straight- forwards series of photographs that capture the bodies of men and women wearing nude tights. You might be thinking that this project is kind of pointless, but in actuality it isn’t. Scozzaro’s clever ways of conceptualizing his pieces challenge the viewer to think outside the box and ultimately reach various conclusions at once.

Scozzaro began his project by photographing a series of nudes in front of a neutral background and had the models wear a pair of skin color tights as a metaphor for conformism. As the project developed (and gave it a name), Scozzaro started thinking about the motives behind his artistic choices.

Mirrors Neurons a family of neural cells considered to be the neurological base of imitation. I used this scientific element as a starting point to reflect on how different people follow the same way of thinking. It’s a projection on personal feelings such as solitude, detachment, shyness and the urge to connect with others.—Marco Scozzaro

Like in most of his projects, Scozzaro’s subtle but powerful and beautiful images allow for different layers of interpretation. In this specific case, we can take the nude tights as a symbol that simultaneously represents ideas of oppression and vulnerability. His interesting way of transferring concepts into these carefully arranged portraits extends its topic to a broader range of issues including identity, gender, and relationships. (via Feature Shoot)

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