Venus Envy

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Update Project: 022508

artist statement:

Artist Marcel Duchamp is often identified for his early explorations of the representative capabilities of "ready-mades", or appropriated objects imbued with representative value via selection and context. His creative projects involving a female alter ego named Rrose Selavy are equally as provocative in their seminal explorations of gender and drag imagery. Duchamp not only created the Selavy persona, but a "ready-made" fragrance in her honor. This fragrance, along with portraits of Selavy shot by noted Dada/surrealist photographer, Man Ray captured Rrose's essence.

In my update to Duchamp's Rrose Selavy portraits, I adopt the alter-ego Venus Envy. This name like it's Duchamp counterpart, incorporates an intentionally suggestive sexual double entendre. The name's presence is chromatically echoed throughout the images via the presence of pink (signifying conventional femininity or "Venus"), and green (a marker of jealous desire or "Envy"). I too engage the gender specific associations surrounding perfume, via locating my portraits in the contemporary context of glossy editorial fragrance advertisements. In keeping with Duchamp's "ready-made" tradition, the Venus Envy bottle was selected as a result of it's form both being suggestive of a phallus and a womb.
As with Duchamp's drag interrogations, the images' goals are not to affect female authenticity, or "passability", but too identify and amplify the aesthetic codings of glamour, allure, and performative gender. While Duchamp's portrait's were signed with a salutation from Rrose herself, Venus opts for a haunting graphic signature: this thorned rose seal signifies, both the beauty and pain associated with male to female gender performance.
Digital color photography, as opposed to Man Ray's conventional monochrome wet processing, is the updated media format: while I obsessed over every detail of the digital photos' composition, ultimately like Duchamp before me, I was forced to surrender to another hand's initiation of the camera's click.

Link to Rrose Selavy Image

Original Illustrator Files

reclined crop

kneeling crop

full length crop

bottle crop

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