SHE PISSED HERSELF IN PUBLIC
By Gabriella Pounds
She pissed herself in public. And self-inflicted her punishment: poised, resplendent in pure awkwardness, raw shame. Like the fleeting gush of vulnerability in being caught naked, when you’re supposed to be fully clothed. Visibly leaking body fluids – whether tears, sweat or breast milk – invoke a learned emotional response of embarrassment. Dimitra Petsa aims to lay bare and subvert these subtle, damp gestures of corporeal censorship, which disproportionately affect our shared female body today.
Dipetsa is drenched with an exquisite skewing of performance art and fashion design. Humiliation is reclaimed through siren-like nude bodies with silken-tresses, reminiscent of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (1486), confidently spitting, urinating and breastfeeding on stage. References to antiquity overflow: women recite poetry and dance around a vessel to a backdrop of traditional Greek music. Hand-blown glass rings (in the shape of tear drops) and attenuated slip dresses fall from the wearer’s nipples. While a uniquely engineered textile – semi sheer and evocative of moist fabric – cloaks the natural curvature of the performer’s physiques. Collectively, their outfits and movements recall a mass of teetering, scantily clad nymphs, straight out of a Titian painting – except if the Renaissance master was reborn a woman, imbricating emotional intelligence and patriarchal resistance in every brushstroke.
Garments stitched with metallic threads parody the silver, medieval embroidery worn by Greek Orthodox priests. But the austere male dominance of the Church and its relationship to holy water evaporates here: the women baptise themselves while quoting eco-feminist literature. Environmental politics arises from our quest for dryness: discarded cosmetic products, caustic antiperspirants pollute our oceans. Through a tapestry of mediums and inspirations, from artists such as Ana Mendieta and Pipilotti Rist, to the fine, cascading drapery of Madame Grès, Dipesta undresses the experience of indignity and renders the personal, political; wet.
Gabriella Pounds is a writer who lives and works in London, UK. Her work has been published in GUT and Frieze magazine, where she recently researched and produced the Frieze x Gucci film collaboration