Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Avant GaGa

"For us, art is not an end in itself ... but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in." [Hugo Ball on Dada]

I'm learning to rend my babble into speech a bit late on this entire GaGa phenomnomnomenon, which I am referring to as AvantRetro. Her style obviously owes some gratitude to the Warhouse 60s, but she keeps it pretty 80s in homage to Our Lady of Ciccone, to whom I'm sure she also winks toward. And by wink I mean "throws herself before upon the sacred earth in an impassioned act of devotion."

image courtesy celebs.gather.com

I guess that's why I call it AvantRetro, it brings elements of Dada and other varieties of the shift from Romanticism's envy of medievalism toward what we have today, yet it plants its consciousness in a mode that is very close to, but just before the present. It's not really retro--and it's certainly not vintage. It's like the memories you have from the party before you got drunk, that drunk time being the 90s. GaGa's hangover is our wake-up call.

I'm happy to attribute this, if anyone knows the original source.

It also seems to be a response to, and provocation of ideas concerning the female body as affected by the sex industry--particularly the pornography and "exotic dancing" industries--taking its cue from pre-60s burlesque in its embrace of "erotic" garb and, indeed, the female body itself, in a manner of subverting male, heterosexist subjugation of said physical temporalities. She does, indeed, dress often like a stripper. But she contorts the exposure into a challenge of what the (male) viewer expects to have the privilege to see.

One of the many things that interest me about her and her particular breed of brand is that, after having seen oh-so-many photographs of her, I don't know that I would necessarily recognize her if I saw only a photo of her unembellished face. That said, I can recognize her in costumed shots--despite the fact that her costumes are constantly changing. Her art is not an end, but a provocation. She reminds me of someone I think I may have spoken to before the ball dropped.

"That which I can gain from another is never instruction, but only provocation." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
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