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A pair of innocent eyes usher in the viewer’s gaze to the opening scene of MINNIE, by Maria Petschnig. Soon after, he realizes that they belong to the iconic Minnie Mouse who is modeled on a T-shirt worn by the artist. She positions herself as the camera comes into focus, and like an unblinking eye, the lens remains fixed on her torso until the video winds down to its finale.

At first, Petschnig, who performs in all her works, mimics the coquettish pose of Minnie by tucking her hands behind her back and shifting her weight to one side. She flaunts her chest to the viewer, whose natural curves eventually become warped through the use of various textile objects underneath the T-shirt: the breasts inflate monstrously, the spine somehow is/comes in front, the bottom balloons into a voluptuous corset. The performer flattens her T-shirt to accentuate her figure and strokes her constructed appendages as a suggestive hint to her erotic potential. Her evolving figure is presented in front of the camera with an effortless grace.

As the performance unfolds, Petschnig further transforms herself by bursting through the seams of her experimental dimensions. Each twirl of her hips frees the body of an object, and is then allowed to ripen into full sexual expression. The fetish-like garments refer visually to Minnie’s cute little ears, her red dress, and yellow shoes. Like a stripper, she teases the audience by showing more and more skin, which she redefines and warps too, similar to the artificial pieces of garments. The combination of the striptease-like poses with her choice of costume creates an alienated world in between the sensual and the absurd. By doing so, a clear statement about femininity, sexuality and the female body cannot be deciphered and the viewer is able to vary his usual perceptions toward the passionate art of undressing.

(Christa Benzer)

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