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Back to Reviews 96

Two views of Vanessa Beecroft's
untitled performance
at Ghislaine Hussenot

letter from paris
by Jeff Rian

vanessa beecroft
at ghislaine hussenot

If you've already seen a performance by the Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft, the one she did at Ghislaine Hussenot's gallery in Paris might have disappointed you. What she does is to have partly undressed girls in similar wigs and some pasty exaggerated makeup slouch around looking emotionally detached like somnambulant cyborgs. In Paris they wore furs, but there weren't enough models and those there were too self-conscious to perform the part. I don't blame Beecroft - the gallery had problems finding performers; that's not Hussenot's thing. Even so, the performance evoked the vaguely sexy Blade Runner replicant effect that Beecroft looks for.

Beecroft also showed paintings made from stills of past performances, which are always taken by Armin Linke - an Italian photographer whose specialty is art performances. The portraits have something in common with Rita Ackerman's baby-faced drawings, Japanese mangas and virgin Modigliani women (of which there are none, by the way). They stare at you in pale colors, quickly scumbled on white grounds. In contrast to the performers, they seem eerily alive. But it's the performances that really goose your flesh.

JEFF RIAN is a writer living in Paris.