In celebration of the exhibition The Naked Life in the LWL Museum of Art and Culture, Swiss conceptual artist Moiré walked around the museum naked with a nude baby in a performance titled How Little Abstraction Can Art Tolerate? As the artist explained, herself and the baby became a part of the exhibition simply due to their nakedness. Her goal was to challenge the fundamental attitudes towards abstract and figurative art, as well as to challenge others to reflect on familiar forms of perception in a direct confrontation with live nude art.
Moiré’s work has been highly controversial. Situating herself in a feminist performance art legacy, where the nude female body continues to be a frequent image, she joins the insistence that it is somehow outside the system of representation that objectifies women, free of the culture’s imposed constructs and constrictions. Using her body as the center of her practice, Moiré too has often blurred the lines between art and pornography, addressed notions of sexual exchange and consent, and has prompted arrest for public indecency. But her method is debatably hurting the feminist cause.
If anything, critics argue that the central role of her Barbie physique is to comment on the correlation of Art World success and her objective appearance. Moiré’s body type implicitly legitimizes its exposure in the performance space according to the dominant culture’s standards. By showing off a notably hairless, modelesque body type according to magazine stereotypes, she’s not doing any favors for female artists in general. She’s unintentionally affirming male-defined standards for acceptable display.
This recent work, How Little Abstraction Can Art Tolerate? (2015) has met with unimpressed critique:
Art critic Eric Wayne disabuses her intentions of a feminist assertion of sexual equality:
“When you have a naked woman in an art gallery with classical nudes, it invites comparison of tastes and preferences through the centuries, and she becomes emblematic, to a degree, of the contemporary woman. As an artist, she must be making a statement about the body of today’s woman, as compared to those in the past (unless she’s oblivious). It’s hard to escape the conclusion that in order to feel comfortable with her self image, today’s woman needs to adopt cosmetic intervention. While there’s nothing wrong with her making these choices for herself, when she presents herself to the public in the context of an art exhibition about nudes, her personal choices become more proscriptive and hence problematic. Additionally, she is working in the tradition of performance art, which has been strongly political and feminist.”1
1 Wayne, E. (2015) Milo Moire Latest Nude Performance Stomps On Feminism With High Heels and Smothers It With Silicon Implants. Art & Criticism by Eric Wayne.
Jones, Jonathan. (2014) The artist who lays eggs with her vagina – or why performance art is so silly. The Guardian.