Silver crowns, butterflies, smashed tiles and neon question marks floating above. Painting becomes 3D, better than any blow up doll, like sculpture, graphic and alive. We’re on the other side of the looking-glass, and the subject of painting, one of those naked models we’re so used to looking at and calling “nudes”, turns around and starts painting herself and her workmates. Suddenly, our “looking at” is subverted, as the subjects become agents, and care little about us, about our desire colonized by porn and its expectations, as their intimacy rejects our commodification of their bodies, of their sexuality. They look at each other, they make themselves up, wild goddesses of their own locker rooms. These are the women who people Chelsea Culprit’s newest body of work. What is the language of this body? The multi-textured text of this work? What does this Miss smell of? Not puke and privation, but fast food, quick comebacks, and color, loads of color.
Culprit astutely criticizes capitalist objectification of female bodies and the paradoxes of the sexualized girl vs. the infantilized woman, as she submerges us behind the scenes, between working girls, amongst women who dance, who sell and perform a kind of female identity which is then shattered here, so that these larger than life women, like monuments in a small town, may reveal themselves in all their anarchy, their rebellious aliveness. Raw, grotesque, and naked because, as John Berger writes, “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognised for oneself… Nakedness reveals itself.” Here they are. And here we are, ourselves, our desire undressed, our makeup smudged. Do we recognize them; do we recognize ourselves? The looking glass is cracked, the invisible made visible—do we dare look?
— Gabriela Jauregui