But it took former model Zoé Duchesne to hoist the stereotype to another level. Her installation Poupée is pitch-perfect, disrupting any lady-like conversation. Images of a blow-up doll-style girl – Zoé herself – are repeated in formulaic photographs and videos. Wearing a synthetic blonde wig and smudged bright red clown lips, the artist/performer stumbles as if drunk, lies provocatively over a car or with legs splayed amidst stuffed garbage bags. Her breasts are always bare, nipples painted bright pink. Her message? That women are used and that they hide behind a mask.

There are a few interpretations possible, not the least of which is the brilliance of this creative entrepreneur in jumpstarting her artistic career. Bare breasted, she crashed the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, wearing her ‘identity’ of the platinum wig and smeared lipstick. So that the gist was clear, she wrapped mailing tape around her waist, reading: FRAGILE. Before she was removed by security, the resulting ‘photo op’ catapulted her into fame with a picture in Le Journal de Montréal and TV interviews.

Whilst ex-model Zoé once helped sell a story to consumers, now, as Poupée, it is she that is the story. And it is an incongruous one. The paradox lies in the persona. Allusions to an illusion. A blow-up doll is, well, a blow-up doll. Dressed like that - or undressed in Zoé’s case - sends a message. Although, helpfully, she names her photos – La Boulimie, Fragilité, Le Bordel – the subject matter speaks to an ambiguity. As a performance artist, to make her statement, Zoé uses the very imagery that makes women fragile.

At the vernissage, a team of ‘mini’ Zoés performed; half-dressed, with wigs and scarlet clown lips, each gave little shrieking cries. One wag was heard to say, ‘’this show is about hormones and ‘whore moans’.’’

In the images, beautifully photographed by Martin Laporte, there is more at play than first meets the eye. Go and see for yourself. This 32-old Quebecer has captured the zeitgeist as she wends her Warholian way.

Zoé Duchesne
La Poupée
Photographs and videos

March 19 – April 19, 2015

L’Arsenal
2020 William Street
514-931-9978
arsenalmontreal.com

 

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Photo credits:
Zoé Duchesne, La Poupée
Credit: Veronica Redgrave
From originals by photographer Martin Laporte