Every year during Art Basel and Miami Art Week, there's one exhibit, performance, or item that goes viral. Last year, it was Jeffrey Deitch mistaking Diddy for Kanye West. In 2011, it was Miru Kim's performance art piece, "I Like Pigs and Pigs Like Me (104 hours)," for Primary Projects that had her living with pigs at the gallery space.
And after Usher decided his iPhone needed a quick charge, performance artist Lena Marquise is the one currently basking in all the social media glory. There's no doubt that being naked at an art fair with cables hanging out of your vagina is going to attract some attention, but Marquise isn't shying away from it.
We spoke to Marquise, who wouldn't tell us any personal details about herself except that she's currently based in New York, and her gallerist J.J. Brine of Vector Gallery about the swift response from pop culture and the power of a woman's vagina.
By the way, Marquise will exhibit her piece again two more times at Select Art Fair tomorrow through the afternoon and on Sunday at the end of the fair's run.
New Times: Guessing you've been pretty busy since your quick rise to Internet fame. Are you at all surprised by the reaction?
J.J. Brine: It's exactly as expected.
Lena Marquise: Yeah, it's pretty much how we thought it might go.
Brine: I mean, we didn't have an expectations going in, but we expected what was coming to us.
Is the work attributed solely to you, Lena?
Marquise: Yes, I'm the performance artist.
What is the title of the performance?
Marquise: Body as Commodity.
What are you trying to tell people through your performance?
Marquise: It's open to interpretation. I would never want to take away from anybody exactly how they feel.
Are you mainly a performance artist?
Marquise: Yes, performance art is my main medium.
With all the reaction, both negative and positive, how are you taking it?
Marquise: I take it well. I appreciated everyone's reaction regardless of where it registers on the scale of positive to negative.
Brine: Every reaction across the full gamut of perceptions serve to advance the interest of this project.
Some say art is successful when you are able to cause some reaction, regardless of whether it's good or bad. I guess you've achieved that. What do you think of the criticism that nudity is such an easy way to get a rise out of the viewer?
Brine: It's easy in the sense it comes entirely natural.
Marquise: I think it's the most natural state.
Excuse me if I'm being too personal, but how does it all work? Can you charge any kind of device?
Marquise: Both iPhones and Androids can be charged.
Are cables coming out of you and people just hook up their phones?
Brine: Sorry, I don't think we want to comment on that part further.
Marquise: There's a lot of visual representation of how I work, and I think that's the detail I'd like known.
You want people to come and experience it firsthand?
Marquise: I want people to experience the performance. So, yes, come see it firsthand, but I'm not necessarily inviting the crowd to see anything. I'm asking them to think about the piece itself rather than allowing the piece to become a spectacle.
When we first reported it, albeit jokingly, we brought up the whole notion of women as a source of power. I think that's a very powerful message.
Brine: Machines are being integrated into our everyday lives to the point that they are attached to us, and to the point where they give us life as much we give them life.
Going back to the way you rose to fame, via Twitter and Usher. Do you that's a comment on how we live our lives today?
Marquise: Yes, I think the piece speaks to how people are finding out about it. And how people are finding out about is itself a commentary.
Brine: And all reactions, a compendium of responses, they sort of tell their own story. And a narrative of across the spectrum is being compiled in a book of stories.
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Marquise: I think it's still being written.
Do you think there is any misunderstanding about your performance?
Marquise: There is no understanding that's incorrect. All understanding is correct.