Posts Tagged ‘Britney Spears Crotch’

“A Brief History of Performance Art: Part 1″ (Dick Whyte, 2010)

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

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“…I hereby would like to donate a packet of matches. This will do to burn up a part of the presented films, except the last one, made by VALIE EXPORT. Because it is not a film, it is herself and actually, the burning of witches is no common practice anymore (“In Vienna, nothing is common practice” according to Radanowicz). She is on stage and anyone who likes to may touch her.” (Valie Export, 1968)

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Valie Export - Action Pants: Genital Panic (1969)

Valie Export – Action Pants: Genital Panic (1969)

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Carolee Schneemann - Interior Scroll

Carolee Schneemann – Interior Scroll (1975)

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“I thought of the vagina in many ways– physically, conceptually: as a sculptural form, an architectural referent, the sources of sacred knowledge, ecstasy, birth passage, transformation. I saw the vagina as a translucent chamber of which the serpent was an outward model: enlivened by it’s passage from the visible to the invisible, a spiraled coil ringed with the shape of desire and generative mysteries, attributes of both female and male sexual power. This source of interior knowledge would be symbolized as the primary index unifying spirit and flesh in Goddess worship.” (Carolee Schneemann, 1975)

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Orlan

Orlan – The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan (1990 – present)

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“Freud, as brilliant as he was, defined just two types of female orgasm – vaginal and clitoral. To me, that’s like saying the world is flat!” (Annie Sprinkle, 7 Types of Female Orgasm)

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Annie Sprinkle - Public Cervix Announcement

Annie Sprinkle – Public Cervix Announcement (1990)

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“There’s certainly an interest in the old burlesque–I think because people want to hold on to the art form, to the creative ritual. A lot of strippers are performance artists. It’s an art form that’s here to stay, whether you like it or not. It started in the ’50s, with Dadaism and Fluxus, and took off in the ’60s with the hippies and the “happenings.” By the ’70s, it was so ubiquitous that it became a joke, but it’s overcome that.” (Annie Sprinkle, interview with Traci Vogel)

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Andrea Fraser - Untitled (2003)

Andrea Fraser – Untitled (2003)

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“My first thought was, If I’m going to have to sell it, I might as well sell it.” (Andrea Fraser, interviewed in the New York Times)

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Britney Spears – Untitled (2006)

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Lindsey Lohan - Untitled (2009)

Lindsey Lohan – Untitled (2006)

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Ashanti - Untitled (2009)

Ashanti – Untitled (2007)

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Paris Hilton – Untitled (2008)

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HOTLINKS

A Brief History of Performance Art (Part 2)

Dick Whyte Artist Blog

More HOT Performance Art

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“Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are the HOTTEST performance artists living today…” (Dick Whyte, 2010)

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

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When I claim that Britney Spears and Paris Hilton’s upskirt photos (with or without underwear) are a mode of performance art I often get resistance. There are two key arguments which are evoked in order to keep Britney and Paris out of the elusive “artist” category.

The first argument is that Britney Spears, for instance, does not intend these performances to be “art,” as such. Hence, the main issue around whether she is a performance artist rests with intentionality. On the other hand, there have been such a great number of upskirt photos of Britney without underwear on that it seems untenable to argue that she didn’t do it on purpose. The first couple of times she was photographed might have been unintentional sure, but after this she must have known that the potential for her cunt to be photographed existed, and yet she kept doing it (again and again – a refrain).

This is where the second argument is often evoked – Britney has gone a little mad (Paris is just a spoilt brat). It’s not her fault. Suddenly we all feel sorry for Britney, using her insanity to mask our own insecurities. And of course we blame everyone but ourselves (the press, her parents, capitalism – which are all valid critiques, but somehow miss the point). At the same time when talking of great artists (van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock) we evoke images of madness as a condition of their intentionality. This is because, for the artist, madness is equivalent to genius. Of course, Picasso was a terrible ‘womanizer’ and Pollock killed a girl while driving drunk. We excuse these misgivings with old cliches – boys will be boys, artists will be artists. And when Jim Morrison (pretended) to show his cock on stage it became the stuff of legends. However, when Britney shows her cunt on stage (and there is nowhere Britney can go which is not turned into a stage) she is either called a “slut” or a “madwoman.” However, it seems obvious to me that everything Britney does in public constitutes a “performance.” She must be aware 24 hours a day that she is on the world’s stage, wherever she goes. Take this famous photo, for instance:

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Here we have Britney getting out of Paris Hilton’s car. This is significant because both Britney and Paris have been photographed without wearing underwear on so many occasions that the issue of intentionality simply cannot be in question. It is clear that they intended to be photographed without their underwear – they intended to show their cunts in public. I don’t think this can be doubted. At this point we can simply say she is a bit mad, a bit of a slut (or something worse) and forget about it.

Hence, when Britney is both intentional and mad, she is not an “artist.” When van Gogh is both intentional and mad he is both an “artist” and a “genius.” Furthermore, there is a long history of female performance artists using their body (and specifically their vaginas) to make performance art (here I am thinking of Annie Sprinkle, Valie Export and Carol Schneemann, for instance). Hence, it seems to be clear what the word “artist” in the phrase “performance artist” functions to do (yes, I am using Foucault’s formula). It functions to exclude those things we do not want to deal with, which we can forget about. Art functions to give meaning to something – that is, when I say something is “art” I am prepared to take it seriously (art is serious business!). By not calling Britney Spears’ upskirt performances art we are saying that we cannot deal with them as meaningful experiences (for Britney, or us). It has nothing to do with intention, or madness. It is a case of mass social repression. To take Britney and Paris seriously as performance artists is to begin a new phase in mass cultural psychotherapy. And this why I am interested in these kinds of propositions.

I am not saying that these photos are art in order to suggest that they are more worthy than other things. I call them art because I take them seriously as meaningful, intentional performances which have great depth aesthetically, conceptually and symbolically. Take, for instance, the snake necklace around Britney’s neck (look closely). This particular snake is a symbol the ancient divine feminine. In so-called Christian heretical texts this feminine principle (Sophia/Pneuma) was ‘present with god from the beginning’ and was equivalent to ‘wisdom’ or ‘life’ (as in breath). She was eventually cut from the opening sections of the Bible (though the ’spirit’ of God retains a reference to her importance) and transformed into Satan (as a snake) who feeds the apple of knowledge to Eve (a woman). Eve then leads Adam to fall from grace. Is it an accident that she is wearing such a powerful symbol of feminine power (one vilified by the church) in her most famous upskirt photo?

All I have provided here is a number of propositions which hopefully bypass the old questions (did she intend it? is she simply mad? what is art?) in the hope that more vibrant questions may arise (how do experiences become meaningful? what symbols open the play of meaning in a given discourse?).

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HOTLINKS

Dick Whyte Artist Blog

A Brief History of Performance Art Vol. 1

A Brief History of Performance Art Vol. 2

More HOT Performance Art

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