Disembodied

Disembodied? Identity Construction
in a Constructed World
Domenico Quaranta

“What if they really mean it?” Slavoj Zizek [5]
The web has proven to be the perfect environment where to build and perform
public personas from its very beginning. Often, site “virtual characters” created by artists
play with the audience expectations – an audience usually broader and more
variegated than the art audience – and adopt affirmative strategies to make their
criticism more effective and disruptive. In 1996, page the disturbing character of
Mouchette emerged through the eponymous website. Mouchette [6] was a teenager
artist living in Amsterdam and planning to commit suicide, healing addressing her audience
with sensual close-ups of flowers and bodies, intimate sounds and direct interaction
(via forms, forums and web-chats).

…….

Does she really love pink, after all?

Princess Belsize Dollar
“What if they really mean it?” Slavoj Zizek [5]
The web has proven to be the perfect environment where to build and perform
public personas from its very beginning. Often, “virtual characters” created by artists
play with the audience expectations – an audience usually broader and more
variegated than the art audience – and adopt affirmative strategies to make their
criticism more effective and disruptive. In 1996, the disturbing character of
Mouchette emerged through the eponymous website. Mouchette [6] was a teenager
artist living in Amsterdam and planning to commit suicide, addressing her audience
with sensual close-ups of flowers and bodies, intimate sounds and direct interaction
(via forms, forums and web-chats). Later on, the character was claimed by Dutch
artist Martin Neddam. More recently, US based artist Ann Hirsch reached 1.8 million
YouTube hits in about two years performing Caroline Benton, a college freshman
seducing viewers “through dance, song, emo whining and copius ass shaking” on her
YouTube account Scandalishious (2008 – 2009). Scandalishious explored the
territory of “voyeurism, loneliness and desire” remixing online exhibitionism with the
way women are usually portrayed on reality TV [7]. The work of Helen Carmel
Benigson fits perfectly in this tradition. Helen studied art at the Slade School of Fine
Art, but if you get in touch with her through her website, her Twitter account or her
blog, it would be easy to fall into the sexy, charming trap of her alter ego Princess
Belsize Dollar, the rapper who loves Eminem, late night poker and youporn.com.
Benigson willingly and knowingly over-identifies herself with a mask of stereotypical
femininity, in a way that makes it difficult to distinguish between the person and the
avatar, the genuine identification and the parody. Does she really love pink, after all?
As in all strategies of over-identification, the strength of Benigson’s work lies exactly
in the impossibility to answer such a question. According to Slavoj Zizek, while
ironic imitation is reassuring, over-identification “bring[s] to light the obsceneomenico
superego underside of the system”, thus “suspend[ing] its efficency”. [8] Like the
Slovenian group Laibach, Benigson “does not function as an answer, but as a
question”, asking to the viewer: how do you relate with the feminine stereotype I’m
playing in your face?

From

Disembodied? Identity Construction
in a Constructed World
Domenico Quaranta

In Catalogues Domenico Quaranta

 



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