Thek and Hershman Leeson infused the incorruptible effigy with signs of rot and thus ruptured and subverted the image of sovereign power.Paul Thek began making his after a 1963 trip to Sicily sponsored by Princess Topazia Alliata, who had earlier shown his work at Rome’s Galleria Trastevere.
Thek and Hershman Leeson infused the incorruptible effigy with signs of rot and thus ruptured and subverted the image of sovereign power.Paul Thek began making his after a 1963 trip to Sicily sponsored by Princess Topazia Alliata, who had earlier shown his work at Rome’s Galleria Trastevere.Tags: Hku Critical Thinking Common CoreSimpson Prize Winning EssaysWhat Is A Bibliography For A Research PaperDissertation Juridique GratuiteEssay Experience OrganizationCritical Thinking Is Defined AsExaminations Should Be Abolished From The Education System EssayHearing Cultures Essays SoundMy Life After High School EssayEssay Outline About Global Warming
The artist Duane Hanson, for instance, enhanced the lifelikeness of his fibreglass, polyvinyl and bronze casts, based on real individuals, with paint, hair, clothes, and objects befitting their social status, such as shopping carts, lawn mowers, garbage cans and mops.
John de Andrea’s gypsum casts of idealised young women fabricated in bronze or polyvinyl were also painted realistically in full colour.
While Hanson’s figures at least indulge in a more diverse fantasy of American normativity, de Andrea’s homogeneous nudes needed no props to inhabit the abstracting void of the white cube; their poses alone made them objects of the male gaze.
As the critic Kim Levin wrote in 1974, these figures gave the impression of being ‘tranquil, and vacant, with no private thoughts – bodies for sale’.20Far closer to Thek’s installation in this respect were the works of George Segal and Edward Kienholz, both of whom also placed their casts inside built environments.
In this way Thek combined the disturbing lifelikeness of the hyperreal with the abstraction of monochrome sculpture to destabilising effect.
Before exhibiting show in 1970, Thek voiced his displeasure over the ‘hippie’ label to the museum’s director, forbidding any further ‘mention of Hippy, Death of, Life of, anything’ from the press, and arguing that his work was incompatible with a ‘commercialized chic revolution’.25 Thek may have been responding to the denigration of the hippie in both mainstream and radical America; a month after first went on view, on 6 October 1967 in Buena Vista Park, San Francisco, the community action group The Diggers held a very public funeral for ‘the hippie’, complete with a coffin and pallbearers, calling the hippie a ‘devoted son of the mass media’.26 Peculiarly, the response from this anarchist group paralleled the mainstream reaction to hippiedom and its epicentre in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, which played host to experiments in communal living, free stores and clinics, psychedelic rock, promiscuity, flower power, Hinduism and Zen, indigenous rituals, opportunistic gurus, and hallucinogenic drugs.In the late 1960s and early 1970s American artists Paul Thek and Lynn Hershman Leeson independently created wax effigies and situated them within immersive or performative contexts that transformed the visual language of sovereignty and dignified the socially marginal body.This paper explores lost installations by both artists, where the effigy’s connotations of volatility challenged biopolitical systems of control as well as the reduction of individuals to stereotypes.Both stage the effigy at a point of putrefaction – the blue tongue of Thek’s figure, the duration of (1957) German historian Ernst Kantorowicz explained how the royal corpse threatened the symbolic continuity of power, thus prompting the production of a more durable substitute for public display upon death.7 What Kantorowicz identified in his book on the prehistory of modern ‘political theology’ was elaborated on by the philosopher Michel Foucault in a 1975–6 series of lectures at the Collège de France, in which he defined the concept of biopower.8 Foucault modified earlier theories, which understood sovereignty as the divinely ordained right to ‘take life or let live’, to argue that the state now had the authority ‘to make live and to let die’.9 Where individual bodies were subject to disciplinary techniques under medieval regimes, modern political regimes inaugurated in the later eighteenth century applied these techniques to entire populations.10 Individuals only mattered in terms of what data they could yield about the masses; in extreme cases this data could be used to strip citizens of their rights and place them under a ‘state of exception’, a term coined by juridical theorist Carl Schmitt to refer to a sovereign’s ability to transcend the rule of law.11 The political philosopher Giorgio Agamben has followed Schmitt by reviving the obscure Roman legal term at the bottom are thus oddly aligned.13The productive intermingling of death and vitality in these two bodies of work made them an ideal vehicle to challenge the constellation of technologies, institutions and discourses that Foucault named ‘biopower’.Thek’s entombed hippie, which bore his likeness, and Hershman Leeson’s equally entombed yet perversely vital effigies of marginal women can both be understood as confronting biopower through the perspective of the counterculture and other movements that flowered (and declined) in 1960s and 1970s America.Somewhat selectively this article considers the early sculptures and installations of Thek, which are an acknowledged part of the anti-formalist narrative, together with the early work of San Francisco-based artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson (born 1941), who is perhaps better known for her pioneering work in new media.5 From 1963 Hershman Leeson also cast parts of her own face and hands in wax, integrating these pieces into installations situated outside the gallery.Augmenting them with make-up, wigs, glass eyes, as well as interactive sensors and audio components to simulate bodily processes and reactions, Hershman Leeson, like Thek, also encased her modular body parts in materials like Plexiglas or recycled them into site-specific installations, plugging the figures into larger cultural narratives about power, technology and gender.Brought to life by the artist and other performers, this alter-ego was both a confessional self-portrait and a composite of abject feminine stereotypes; she left behind tangible tokens of her existence such as a driver’s licence, a dental X-ray, surveillance photographs, and a psychiatric report.Hershman Leeson’s and Thek’s effigies provide a lens through which to perceive the confluence of political power and individual sovereignty in America in the 1960s and 1970s.This project reached a climatic point in 1967, which consisted of a full-size effigy of the artist painted pale pink and displayed on the floor of a wooden ziggurat of the same feminine colour.A black-and-white photograph taken when the first version of the work was shown at the Stable Gallery in September 1967 shows the inside of the structure, revealing that viewers would have ascended a ramp to look down on the figure from above and thus would have been distanced from it (fig.1).1 Inside the tomb the figure was dressed in painted jeans and a jacket, which hid the wooden torso, and had psychedelic medallions placed its cheeks.