Last night, Spanish performance artist-cum-DJ Maria Forqué, along with the assistance of collaborator Jenni Hensler, staged Persona Somnia I, a one night endurance performance of Shibari and suspension at James Fuentes Gallery.
Known for her provocative and sometimes disturbing performances, Forqué’s work plays with constructions of sexuality and femininity. Utilizing stripper aesthetics and bondage, her work explores the malleability of the body using restrictions and the gaze as psychological tools.
Apparent in both the viewer's actions and Forqué’s Insta-friendly self-sexualization, the show offered a glaring critique of the male gaze—fittingly personified by the endless flashing of cameras in the gallery space. Hung from the ceiling in a coffin-like position wearing only translucent heels, Forqué’s body quickly became commodified as the gallery filled. More aggressive viewers stood close, some extending their camera’s overtop of her nude, seemingly lifeless, form.
Set to a sound installation by Nathan Corbin, the performance featured an somber loop of electronic noise—emphasizing Forqué’s internal dialogue, a reflection of her subjective position as both art object and audience. An accompanying installation by artist and fashion photographer Filip Custic similarly played with acts of viewing, broken mirrors on the gallery floor failing to reflect the surreal images that hung above them.
After an hour Forque grew restless, slowly shifting her body back and forth from a horizontal to fetal position while remaining suspended and bound in ropes. Like the viewers before her, all too eager to capture her image before rapidly losing interest, Forqué’s performance was abruptly put on hold when she prompted her collaborators to untie her for several minutes before resuming her position. As Hensler’s gallery statement reads: “the exhibit explores the act of viewing as a reciprocal one...we experience ourselves as living mirrors of each-other.”