After Olympia

Performance: 3 hours at Emily Carr University, Vancouver, Canada, 2011  

 

hun Hua Catherine Dong licks a white male's whole body inch by inch for three hours on her performance in Vancouver, which refers  Edouard Manet’s painting Olympia 

hun Hua Catherine Dong licks a white male's whole body inch by inch for three hours on her performance in Vancouver, which refers  Edouard Manet’s painting Olympia 

hun Hua Catherine Dong licks a white male's whole body inch by inch for three hours on her performance in Vancouver, which refers  Edouard Manet’s painting Olympia 

hun Hua Catherine Dong licks a white male's whole body inch by inch for three hours on her performance in Vancouver, which refers  Edouard Manet’s painting Olympia 

hun Hua Catherine Dong licks a white male's whole body inch by inch for three hours on her performance in Vancouver, which refers  Edouard Manet’s painting Olympia 

hun Hua Catherine Dong licks a white male's whole body inch by inch for three hours on her performance in Vancouver, which refers  Edouard Manet’s painting Olympia 

These photographs document a three hour durational performance where the artist cleansed a white male subject’s body with rubbing alcohol before meticulously licking his whole body. The title references Edouard Manet’s infamous painting Olympia (1863) and by extension the history of Western European Art and the tradition of objectifying the female body in paint. The artist comments on power relations as she subverts the original painting’s gendered composition. Dong stands in as an authoritative, medical figure instead of the black female ‘Negress’ archetype in the referenced 19th century painting. In addition, a submissive, languid, white male body replaces the confrontational courtesan that the painting was named after. Dong marks the subject’s body with her saliva, leaving a trace of herself and her dominance over the male figure. The tables are turned, at least temporarily. The licks literally embody language, they claim language and thereby control. Their measured sensuality is empowered and empowering. ( quote from Blackwood Gallery)

photo credit: Hua Jin