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Vanessa Beecroft's nude models perform in Carrara

beecroft-nude-models1Hundreds of people lined up yesterday outside the Studio Nicoli in Carrara, a marble workshop, to see the latest performance staged by Vanessa Beecroft, the Genovese artist famed for her nude "tableaux vivants". And no wonder: on display were twenty beautiful young women. Nude. Beecroft put out an open call to recruit twenty Tuscan women between the ages of 20-30 years who posed for free amongst marble statues, their feet and bodies covered in marble dust. Amongst the statues are the gessoes of the Baptism of Christ by the 17th-century artist Mochi, three times life-size, that seem to hover over the women, almost blessing them. The immobile "models" (who are in fact mostly students) do not relate to the public, nor to each other - they are intended to be like marble statues themselves.

The message - of this and other performances by Beecroft - is supposed to be that beauty might not be found within the normal canons of fashion models but in the internal harmony or particular features of each woman. Nonetheless, one cannot help but notice that the girls chosen DO fit what most western people, and advertisers, consider beautiful: they are of various weights, shapes, and levels of tanning, but not fat or spotty, nor is there any woman who is otherwise-abled or of a non-Caucasian ethnicity. To critics that might ask why it is necessary to use womens' bodies in art when we are already innundated with similar messages in other media, the artist responds:

"Perché questo scava nel mio essere, è autobiografico, è ciò che mi colpisce: riguarda l'espressione artistica e anche la sociologia". Because this digs into my essence, it's autobiographical, it's what hits me most deeply: it's about artistic and sociological expression.

What do you think? Is it art? How different is this "performance" art from fashion advertising? Do you as a viewer come away with anything from this work? Photo sources: VIP rassegna stampa.