Martine Guttierrez VR Exhibition: China Doll, Rated R
We betray ourselves by denying the complex accounting of our identities. How do we unburden ourselves of the limits of language? We seem to re-name every time a new label is propagated—like a distinctive melody commercialized into a jingle. Everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame in the commerce of Identity. We are trapped in a labyrinth of our own making—an inescapable power structure. Unnatural blondes—re-born into the proximity of power are marked by tragedy. Another ingenue—another era of Marilyn—Anna—Diana—Candy—Brittany—Britney—JonBenét—another beautiful obituary for us to aspire.
CHINA DOLL is the experience of wanting to be “the image”so badly that you sacrifice what you truly need. Consume until you are—touching the flame—becoming the mold to break her. It wasn’t until manifesting into the bombshell that I could see my aspirations for what they truly are. The child inside has to say “I am not more beautiful as Britney Spears.” What does it take to recognize our stars are voids inherently as blank as mannequins? This famous aspiration of perfection—whether a personal or public impulse—is a piling of references. The application of those references curated into media—projecting the perpetuation of our colonial hierarchies. Blonde is the cheapest privilege you can buy.
A popular interpretation of INDIGENOUS WOMAN is that of autobiography—perhaps because embodiment is easier to assume and understand as truth. We all project ourselves before we are ourselves. It is the subtlety of saying am I this? vs. I am this. I seek to produce the very conduits of advertising that sell us the identities I disassemble—the mass of media. CHINA DOLL fortifies this process of fiction- making as study to go deeper into the fantasy of self vision—to see if the projection even exists. The titles INDIGENOUS and WOMAN are two words I do not claim ownership over. A reminder of the duplicity in language. CHINA—in this instance, is not a claim to nationality—but the homonym for porcelain—a white, vitrified translucent ceramic. A mis-translation for the fragility of our own ideals. The trading of wealth and value, or meaning. DOLL—the self objectification of the femme experience. Becoming is to conform to an aspiration of womanhood that is both sold and naturalized. Just as science diagnosed us as transgender—DOLL is generationally our contemporary—yet another moniker on the verge of assimilation.
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Martine Gutierrez (b. 1989 Berkeley, CA) is an artist, performer, and musician who produces elaborate narrative scenes that employ pop culture tropes in order to explore the complexity, fluidity and nuances of both personal and collective identity in terms of race, gender, class, indigeneity, and culture. Working across performance, photography and film, Gutierrez simultaneously acts as subject, artist and muse. She asserts control over her own image by executing each stage of the creative process herself, including staging, lighting, makeup, costuming, modeling and photography.
Gutierrez’s earlier bodies of work—Real Doll (2013), Girl Friends (2014) and Line Up (2014)—explore gender, intimacy and fantasy, often incorporating mannequins as ambiguous characters in constantly shifting realities. Her semi-autobiographical film, Martine Part I - IX (2012 - 2016), is a meditation on personal transformation that begun while she was an undergraduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design, and was finished years later as a young artist in New York City. The episodic video work follows the eponymous character from Providence to New York via Central America and the Caribbean, communing with urban architecture and natural elements such as sand, water and air. Martine negotiates the permanent and the fleeting, moving from place to place, as she journeys to self-discovery.