Porn Nail$


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Porn Nail$
Physical Description:
Project in lieu of thesis
Romero, Rosemarie
College of Fine Arts; University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla
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Porn Nail$ is a performance based multi-media/sensory installation in the form of a mobile nail salon, infiltrating public space with radical jouissance, vulgar conversations, and ghetto raunch. Mixing parodic gender play, B-movie camp, and Miami kitsch aesthetics, I perform tawdry alter-egos to critically celebrate, parody, and subvert the construction of Latin female identity and cultural stereotypes while confronting issues intersecting class, sexuality, and race. Porn Nail$ pays homage to my Miami upbringing, ‘low-class’ culture, women’s labor; and the cheap, garish sensuality of the urban exotic. By taking advantage of a commodity fetish and an industry model, I create modes of relational experience, exchange, and interaction. Recreating the sights, sounds, and smells of an urban nail salon, I construct a festive space where temporary micro-communities gather to openly talk about sex, love, and work specific to their locality in exchange for “tricked out,” colorful nails. This exchange operates within the social interstice of ‘gift economies’ which, according to Georges Bataille, engages in trading activities outside the logic of capitalism and profit. As a site-specific project that gains meaning as I travel to different geographical locations and cultural contexts, Porn Nail$ deals with the question of assimilation. As a Latin immigrant I provide a service of cultural exchange and shared assimilation. Porn nails are a sign of ‘self-othering’ and a mark of ‘the exotic’ on the fingertips. It is a call for reclaiming one’s ‘hidden magic’ and diversity. This marking of otherness and cultural hybridity is achieved through my symbolic use of vivid color and collage aesthetics. Porn Nail$ is a conscious artistic gesture to further question and blur the boundaries between high and low culture and the notion of “bad taste” in order to reveal its subtle ideologies regarding social hierarchies and exclusion of ‘others’ in regards to gender, class, and race.
General Note:
Creative Photography terminal project

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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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By Rosemarie Romero $ UPERVISORY COMMITEE: Craig Smith (Chair) Wes Kline (Member) Sergio Vega (Member) Katerie Gladdys (Member) ______________________________________________________________________ Project in Lieu of Thesis Presented to the College of Fine Arts of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts University of Florida, 2013


Rosemarie Romero Quadrant Six


3 // Table of Contents Acknowledgements Abstract Chapter 1: Porn Nail$: The Urban Exotic Chapter 2: Chapter 3 : XXX Encounters Bibliography Pictures Bio S ketch


// ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First, I would like to thank my committee chair, Dr. Craig Smith, and the amazing artists in my supervisory committee Wes Kline, Sergio Vega, and Katerie Gladdys. Thanks Craig Smith for expanding my knowledge of critical theory, pseudo events, and the signifying powers of materials. It has been a pleasure pa rticipating and learning in your thought provoking seminars. Thank you for endlessly challenging, coaching, and believing in my work. I deeply appreciate and enjoyed the gifts you gave me my 1st year The Gory End and your publicati on On the Photographic They are treasured. Thanks Wes Kline for your amazing seminar Text/Act (where Porn Nail$ was born), and having me sit in your Visual Literary class. I enjoyed our rich, informative, and humorous conversations in my studio visits tha t helped feed, develop, and articulate the complex ideas in Porn Nail$ Thanks for always encouraging & believing in me. Thanks Katerie Gladdys for your amazing seminars on video art, ilarious conversations on your class topics & amaz ing feedback during critiques. I admire your wisdom, sense of humor, whimsical from Nailgasm: The Nail Art Documentary Attorney rights activist Sandra Fluke, my grad school colleagues, friends, and my amazing family for their undying support. Thanks Titi Linda for always encouraging and nurturing my artistic journey. o thank my wonderful partner, Noise artist, Action Research curator, and vegetarian, Andrew Chadwick, for his unconditional love, emotional support, and artistic inspiration. The noise scene has transformed and affected my approach to community, art making cultural This is dedicated to you


5 //ABSTRACT Abstract of Project in Lieu of Thesis Presented to the College of Fine Arts of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts Chair: Craig Smith / Major: Art Porn Nail$ is a performance based multi media/sensory installation in the form of a mobile nail salon, invading public space with radical jouissance, vulgar conversations, and ghetto raunch. Mixing parodic gender play, B movie camp, and Miami kitsch aesthetics I perform tawdry alter egos to critically celebrate, parody, and subvert the construction of Latin female identity and cultural stereotypes while confronti ng issues intersecting class, sexuality, and race. Porn Nail$ pays homage to my Miami upbringing, By taking adva ntage of a commodity fetish and a beauty industry model, I create modes of relational experience exchange, and interaction Recreating the sights, sound s, and smells of an urban nail salon, I construct a festive space where temporary micro communities gat her to openly talk about sex, love, and work specific to their locality in ithin the social which, according to Georges Bataille, engages in trading activities outside the logic of capitalism and profit. As a site specific project that gains meaning as I travel to different geographical locations a nd cultural contexts, Porn Nail$ deals with the question of assimilation. As a Latin immigrant I provide a service of cultural exchange and shared assimilation. on the fingertips. It is a call for recl diversity. This marking of otherness and cultural hybridity i s achieved through my symbolic use of vivid color and collage aesthetics. Porn Nail$ is a conscious artistic gesture to further question and blur the boundaries o reveal its subtle ideolo gies regarding s in regards to gender, class, and race. In sum, I am interested in performances that simultaneously trample and reify female stereotypes, and how identity positions & power relations affect artists participants, and spectators.


For my thesis exhibition, I a m installing a fully functional nail salon in the gallery space. The nail salon will be embedded in a messy pastiche resembling a hybrid Op Art / Action painting complete with paint splattered w alls & floors, mirrors, nail polish racks, office plants, and white minimalist oriental room dividers. Meats Saints, and Sweets, a 5 minute video depicting Miami street life, will be projected onto the white screens of the oriental room divider. On the wall, a smaller version of the video will be installed equipped with headphones. The audio will consist of found sound fragmented music, and narrated text. Street photographs juxtaposed with digital collages from my Meats, Saints, and Sweets series will be published as a magazine for viewers to take. Porn Nail$ will be taking nail appointments ( including eyelash, hair extension, be auty mark, lips, eye shadow, & temporary tattoos ) with the help of gallery staff. Work hours will coincide with those of the gallery. I will be producing nail art as my persona UCA collaboratively with a licensed nail tech & owner of Nail Pop LLC, Erin Ha teberry, who will also be performing in character for Porn Nail$. I am presenting a customized manicure table, painted in the colors of the Porn Nail$ b rand aqua, pink, gold, and silver The glass surface of the nail table is hand collaged with pornographic images of women flashing nail art. These explicit images will be covered strategically in layered splashes of paint, glitter, rhinestones, and kitsch objects. Participants may help them selves to a self serve coffee stand, along with platters full of bananas, colorful swirled lollipops, and tooth picked Vienna Sausages, called Salchichas A ghetto blaster will play a self compiled playlist of Miami Bass, Ghetto tech, Merengue, Reggaeton, Kuduro, Electro Clash, and Freestyle music. As UCA, I wil l be serving cafecitos booty dancing, doing nails, eating Salchichas and acting out exaggerated utterances & gestures, while dressed in urban Miami fashion. Porn Nail$ viral marketing posters featuring UCA will be fly posted on the walls like street advertisements, and available for viewers to take. Porn Nail$ is a culmination of my research in to T hird Wave, P ost P orn Queer, and N omadic feminism; Relational A esthetics, and Visual C ulture studies My fluid shape shifting personas are influenced by the theory of performativity and gender parody pioneered by post structuralist feminist Judith Butler. The nomadic and mobile nature of Porn Nails i s influenced by Rosi Braidotti artistic feminist intervention and gender p erformance in public space. My work is also influenced by visual artists Nikki S. Lee, Ryan Trecartin, Coco Fusco, Adrian Piper, Jeff Koon s, Annie Sprinkle, and John Waters.


7 Porn Nail$ : The Urban Exotic Porn Nail$ is a performance based multi media/sensory installation in the form of a mobile nail salon, invading public space with radical jouissance, vulgar conversations, and ghetto raunch. Mixing parodic gender play, B movie camp, and Miami kitsch aesthetics I perform tawdry alter egos to critically celebrate, parody, and subvert the construction of Latin female identity and cultural stereotypes while confronti ng issues intersecting class, sexuality, and race. Porn Nail$ pays homage to my Miami upbringing, By taking advantage of a commodity fetish defined as sexually charged economic relationships mediated by the exchange of commodities ; and a beauty industry model I create modes of relational experience exchange, and interaction The commodity fetish is nail art, what it signifies within pop culture, and how people use nail art as an aid to the construction of their cultural identity. Re creating the sights, sound s, and smells of an urban nail salon, I construct a festive space where temporary micro communi ties gather to talk about sex, love, and work specific to their localit y in exchange for colorful nails. Expanding the concept of the readymade this work generates meaning by selecting available cultural objects and inserting them into new contexts (Bourriaud 2002, 13) As a social sculpture it is simultaneously an aesthetic ob ject and tool of connection between individuals that produce models of sociality and use This exchange operates w which, according to Georges Bataille, engages in trading activities outside the logic of capitalism and profit : 08 ) This alternative


relationships and agency threatened or interchangeable with ( Jacobs: 08) This society of gift giving and to peer platforms and networked sites of pleasure exchange, These like the online virtual world Second Life in whi ch users construct avatars and alternate realities I nfluenced by the changing mental space opened by the internet, this work is not a termination point of the creative process but a site of navigation, a portal, a generator of activities (Bourriaud 2002, 19). Using the market form as a visual model of temporary and nomadic gathering s, the work is physicall make material the flows and relationships that have tended to disembodiment and abstraction with the appearance of online shopping (Bourriaud 2002,29). It is a gesture these functions and processes not as objects but as mediums of experience to be lived (Bourriaud 2002, 32). The use of the market form in my work postmodern economy tends to make immaterial which is itself a fiction (Bourriaud 2002, 32). As a result the work generat es relationships between people where interhuman exchange and interaction is an aesthetic o bject; in which the object exchanged is love, trust, understanding excitement, friendship, and ideas It reflects an era producer where the new modes embr aced are about networks, connecti ons, and aggregation the user/ consumer has emerged as the locus of


9 : 89). T his exchange performs the essence of the aphrodisia ; the acts, gestu res, and contacts that produce certain form s of pleasu re ( Foucault : 40). Producing and consuming nail art is similar to the practice of sexual pleasure in the performance of the aphrodisia sustained by the economy of needs and desires (Foucault : 50) In Porn Nail$, exchange is the aphrodisia As a site specific project that gains meaning as I travel to different geographical locations demographics, a nd cultural contexts, Porn Nail$ deals with the question of assimilation. As a Latin immigrant I provide a service of cultural exchange and shared assimilation through nail art Porn Nail$ on the fingertips. It is a call for recl aiming difference. and hybridity is ach ieved through vivid color and collage aesthetics. Porn Nail$ is a feminist gesture to further question and blur the boundaries order t o reveal its ideologies regarding in regards to gender, class, and race. This is particularly interesting when it pertains to the realm of aesthetics and the arts, and as it is defin ed by the gendered binary of mind/body political neutrality, s illusion of eternal time lessness an d the elimination of the outside world It is a space shut o ff from the background noise of life Inside the Wh ite Cube : The Ideology of the White Space he declares that The white cube is designed to neutralize social space and time from the artwork, to free itself from context. It is an attempt to cast an appearance of eternity over the status quo in terms of social and


: 9). By displaying the endurance of a certain power structure, T he white cube offers the thought that while eyes and minds are welcomed, space occupying bodies are not, or are only tolerated your own body seems superfluous, ( : 15) He argues that this is installation shot, a metaphor for the gallery space, wher e the spectator is eliminated ( : 15). Thus, Porn Nail$ takes as its starting point Dorothea Von Hantelmann call for artists to do things with art, to use the exhibition format in order to act upon it, to play with its conventions in order to produce alternative meaning s ( Hantelmann:11). Through Porn Nail$, I want to reintroduce politics, class, transience, and the outside world back into the space by invading it with a temporary ever changing and practice in which a diverse audience and social context becomes the artwork side that privileged space. I am interested in parodic performances that simulta neously trample and reify gender and cultural stereotypes in o socially constructed unreality theory of performativity, I seek to chal lenge the notion of an original, authentic, and stable identity by denaturalizing it through my shifting female masquerade Extending fiction and a doubly inscribed fantasy a historically contingent, mass produced combination of myth, desire, location, marketing, and political expedience (Mendible : 1). What is subversive about gender performativity and camp performance is that in


11 possibilities of agency that are foreclosed by positions that take identity categories as fix : 4). Through self parodic gender play, I utilize laughter and the use of pleasure to challenge and transform conventional notions of femininity and to reclaim a right to a self defined sexuality. I direct users to challenge his/her identity as a social construct by encouraging them to perform along with me Through these exchanges I explore how identity pos itio ns and power relations affect performers users and spectators. I further complicate notions of an authentic identity reproduced disseminated, and consumed within the larger image economy these images are used to serve ideological, economic, and political functions The inherent quality of the images informed by other images, opens up a productive space for pastiche, appropriation, and mash ups of representations an d a play with context, reception and audience I exploited photographic by constructing and circulating parodic advertisements of my characters with social networking sites and art institutions to promote and market the Porn Nail$ brand and Nail A rt eve nts. It is to highlight that identity is a constructed, marketable and consumable commodity in which group identities emerge by the consumption of cultural products in this case Nail A rt. avatars with the names Chichi, uca, and Tormenta Tropical. These manicurists form the gang of site specific public encounters in places such as elevators,


galleries, and alternative spaces. The use of public space is significant in that it is a site where identity and sexual politics are battled and negotiated These avatars function as bearers of empowered otherness and an interface for viewer interaction These avatars stimulate user interact ivity and assimilate users into difference through feminist codes of collage, color and paint This reclamation of color is a defiant ; the prejudice of color by Western culture that masks a fear of contamination and corruption through color (Batchelor : 22) from culture, to devalue color, to (Batchelor : 22). C olor is made out to be the property of some foreign body usually the feminine, the oriental, the primitive, the infantile, the vulgar, the queer, or the pathological (Batchelor : 23). Col or is regarded a s alien and therefore dangerous; sinister and superficial. Chromophobia also manifests itself in the way color is routinely excluded from the higher concerns of the mind ( Batchelor : 23). ( Batchelor : 23). Besides the bleached interiors of the sacred temple Chromophobia in my own neighborhood. Growing in Miami, I was empowered by the bright psychedelic colors that drenched our urban neighborhoods. When my family eventually moved into the suburbs our new neighborhood was coated in suffocating restricting, tyrannical, repressive beige People even dressed in shades of beige khaki It was assimilation into the beige lifestyle I understood that suburban beige signified erasure, the status quo, the conventional, the impersonal seriousness, impotence, death In suburbia color was neurotically purged, for n onconformity was a threat to its


13 illusory stability God forbid our neighbor paints their house lime green or our property value will go down dare move into that neighborhood, you know what kinds of people paint their house s in those colors Even bright attire and cosmetics had to be checked for they hinted of a certain working like a woman ; color was a permanent internal threat an ever present inner other which, if unleashed, would be the ruin o ( Ba t c h e lor : 23) The a im of this project is to reclaim color, to assert that we are e lor : 70). my personal archive of adult magazine flashing raunchy displays of extravagant nail ar t As I closely examined the photographs of my pornographic archive, the B arthesian punctum that struck me the most was the strange juxtaposition of explicit female sexuality and the glittering array of colorful, airbrushed, diamond studded acrylic nails. This powerful gesture of sexual expression stuck with me for many years. It was empowering to imagine t hese women subversively expressing and owning their sexuality through vivid nail art. These images were doubly coded; one was to provide sexual arousal, the second was a subversive nail art gallery expressing female sexuality Growi ng up in Miami, I was su rrounded by d azzling urban nail styles worn by inner city Miami women from the Latino, Asian and African American community. Women and female youth proudly displayed their nail art as a mark of ethnic beauty and pride; and for most women it was sign of pow erful female sexuality. It was an art form that came from the ; empowering women through visual pleasure and beauty while they lived and faced dire economic realities. Like a traditional fetish or talisman, it was as if these


extravagant designs and patterns gave women special powers, strength, and confidence. These nails did not conform to patriarchal standards of beauty, it did not matter whether men liked them or not, women did it to pleasure themselves. Frequently I would hear women f rom higher economic classes deride these nails as tacky, taste These comments made me think back on my pornographic archive and my pleasure wearing nail art, and made me question th e notion of class, race, and gender, and how they are intimately Male Fantasies II Klaus Theweleit asserts that h istorically, indepen dent working class women were called whores and prostitutes and their sexuality was always in question They were deemed a threat to the patriarchal structures of society. means A) women who works, and B) a prostitute. This link of gender, class, race, and female sexuality is fascinating because it brings up questions regarding otherness, soc ial exclusion stereotypes & attitudes and anxieties regarding and economic status Many working class women of color attend nail school to recei ve specialized training to become professional entrepreneurs and skilled nail artists. After receiving their license, they become self employed booth renters, employees, or salon owners. By profession, they are and beauty industry These jobs help woman find economic independence, and empower them to b ecome successful entrepreneurs. They ar e female hustlers constantly promoting and perfecting their creative services for eco nomic survival. They provide clients with


15 happiness, beauty, and pleasure for very little money in exchange for colorful, miniature, portable, wearable art. N ail art functions similarly to notion of the color drugs; for which a painter was a grinder and mixer of multicolor drugs, and in this case drugs applied to the body (Batchlor: 31). Nail Art has the magical power to provide instant states of bliss and ecstasy through beauty B eauty is a transformative force that positively alters sensory and mental state, especially if they live a life of struggle deprived of beauty and pleasure. Nail artists are shamans that give people life, hope, and optimism by sharing the elevating power of beauty. Nonetheless, Nail Art was regarded as low feminine craft; patriarchal values of High Art and Western Culture. The aim of my project is similar to that of Miriam Shapiro groundbreaking femmages which raised the issue of feminism and art by reclaiming sensuous forms and s ymbols traditionally marginalized as sentim ental, feminine, and decorativ e. C ontribu ting to the legacy of feminist art, Porn N ail$ seeks to elevate the status of wom and craft by reclaiming and validating a once high art By operating a nail salon within the exhibition space, a private and pleasurable exchange between people is transformed into a public women unassumingly contrive without thinking themselves as artists (Peterson : 71). Here, the nail salon becomes a site of interactive production within the exhibition space. It is a mobile artist where notions of art and work combine; calling into question the myth of the artistic genius working in isolation. Like Shapiro, my work aims to celebrate women s lives and creative acts : : 30). This mobile element of the pop up nail salon not only signifies the literal upward


mobility of the status of women, but correlates with formulation of a nomadic feminist practice, where she calls for the feminist appropriation of public space areas of transit, pass age and power for creative and political purpose s ( Braidotti: 20 ) to notions of class and gender. T he old conventions of proper, virginal, racially pure Victorian notions of white womanhood. The Victorian model of woman which corporeal excess and bodily pleasure Lower c lass women of color were asso ciate d with the grotesque and considered prostitutes due to their presence in public space via economic labor Likewise, P orn has been historically related to the rise of ma ss production, photomechanical process es the invention of photography, and its creation th century changing concept of a pubic, cheaper printing method Nead : 94). In defining Art and P e, then one of the few stable legal definitions of art is its uniqueness and authenticity; distinct from mass culture (Nead : 94). access explicitly on sale, it is rese rved for contemplative viewing, Porn on the other is seen as an undifferentiated mass of impurity, bought and sold, and wreckin g Nead : 89). motivation, promiscuity, and commodification, then the pleasures of Art are seen to lie in their opposing values, in contemplation, discrimination, and transcendent values ( Nead


17 : 89). In Porn Nail$, I am not concerned with making unique and precious works of art for passive contemplation, but extendi providing users with access to commercial services and mass produced objects that viewers can take away with them. action obsessed with the idea of pleasure, of infinite pleasure, the idea of instant gratification (Nead: 89). Drawing out the connection between economic and sexual metaphor, both forms of cultural production are intent on 89). In Porn Nail$, I am hustling in galleries and public spaces, shamelessly self promoting and self enterprising as a gesture of self engaged prostitution, making who schedule nailed by me. Throu gh gift giving, they take away nail art, candy, a photo book, and posters. Porn Nail$ is a labor of love that pro vides access to pleasure and promote s friendship culture giving and social exchange. Porn Nails seeks to salvage and transform t from its outdated and negative connotations in order to claim it as a vehicle for female sexual agency, pleasure, and empowerment. Porn in this context is the expression of the beauty and luxury of vulgarity, feminine excess, and desire. Porn is that which stimulates, excites, and arouses the senses. Porn is what makes people feel good In this expanded definition of Porn, visual arousal and stimulation is manifest in the orgasmic thrill of garish kitsch and the cheap sensuality of objects, materials, and colors found in the streets of the urban exotic This visual pleasure is found in p ulsating neon signs, disco balls and fog machines, decadent gold jewelry at a pawn shop window, airbrushed custom cars and tee shirts, spray painted walls, and the shiny wet enamel of freshly


painted acrylic nails. It is the limitless sensory pleasures taken by an urban female flneur of the contemporary Rococo, the visual culture of the street. I extend these metaphorical journeys, exchanges, and instant pleasure s to the realm of the internet, virtual flaneurs immersed in data and social networks This aesthetic philosophy and strategy was explored in Pop Art with artists Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Jeff Koons who found eroticism in pop culture and kitsch that sold desire and cheap thrills through mass produced It is no surprise that the first art market boom happene d simult C the mainstreaming of erotic content in to pop cu l ture C ommerce femininity, and exchange were intimately linked to libidinal desire. Porn Nails question s and blur s the boundari es between high and low culture art and porn, I h ighlight class, taste, and Art/w ork by invading the exhibition space with by operating a functional & interactive nail salon that takes in walk in appointments. It thus becomes a work that questions the use of work where a prof essional activity is doub (Bourriaud 69). In this way, Porn Nail$ brings together notions of gender, class, and As Minal Hajratwala says in the essay Against Taste : [ Our tastes more than our emotions, thoughts, or even deeds are essential to the outward cultural ]


19 In Porn Nail$, I seek to exploit and articulate a political use of feminist camp, kitsch, and postmodern pastiche. To address the representation of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and gender, I invented fictional female avatars which allowed me to experiment with the construction and performance of identity. With these transformations, I wanted to explore the relationship between art and audience in the construction of identity, and examine alternate methods of distributing artw orks and reaching target audiences. Like artists Adrian Piper, Cindy Sherman, and Nikki S.Lee, I transformed my identity and became a fluid series of embodied avatars that represented Ju perform in order to assume and maintain identity -individuals maintain those modes of being through repeated performance ( Smith : 59). Identity is performative one acts out gender performativity, I explore identity through shifting characters that embody cultural stereotypes of Latin female identity, class, and sex uality. Autobiographical and fictional, powerfully affirmative, these empowered characters function to give representation & visibility to working class, marginalized women of color that have been silenced, invisible, and devalued in the past within the sphere of politics and cultural production. My constructed avatars function as an interface for viewers to confront interact, and take pleasure with the positions & relations of p ower. Unlike more aggressive confrontational strategies in empowered


approach of confrontation to engage participants and viewers. I reclaimed camp as a rearticulated it within the framework of feminism to facilitate a positive displace essen : 6). The outrageousness and flamboyance for a critique, rather than mere affirmation of stereotypical and oppressive images of women. Camp offe rs feminists a model for critiques of gender and sex roles because it has an affinity with feminist discussions of gender construction, performance, and : 4 ). As a form of ironic representation and reading, postmodern camp and pastiche is doubly coded in political terms; it both legitimizes and subverts that which it parodies (Robertson : 4). Camp is productively anachronistic and critically renders specific historical norms obsolete; its effect occurs the moment when cultural products (stars, fashions, genres, and stereotypes) of an earlier moment of production have lost their power to dominate cultural meanings and become available for redefinition and recycling according to contemporary codes of taste and laughing n : 5). It is a denaturalizing critique through parody that is critical and subversive. It occupies referring to an opposition to or at variance with the dominant symbolic order Robertson : 10) It expresses the discomfort with and alienation from normative gender and sex roles assigned by straight culture, and offers a space for flexibility and mobility Robertson : 10) specific; a person can be a heterosexual and be queer. Feminist camp views the world For feminists, camps appeal resides in its potential to function as a form of


21 gender parody as a critical tool of initiating change in sex and gender roles : 10) Mary Anne Doane argues that women need to map themselves in the terrain of fantasy in order to denaturalize representations of women (Robertson : 10). She believes that the credibility of the images of the feminine can be undermined by a roles and gestures of a naturalized femininity (Roberton : 10). The effect is that the herself as a stereotype while allowing the spectator to misrecognize herself and see that he (Robertson : naturalness and originality and reveals its performat ive status of gender identity. out. Through strategies of self demonstrates her recognit ion of herself as a stereotype and a trope, while making the excessiveness of her role visible and strange, depriving the initial mimesis of its power. unnatural Gender parody woul d utilize masquerade self consciously in order to reveal the absence behind the mask and the performative activity of gender and sexual identities. It is a parody of the masquerade that becomes a gesture of defiance toward the assumption of an identity between the woman and the image of the woman. It self of camp and female spectatorship, and the female gaze, I try to rescue forms of


pleasure for the female viewer and audience. In camp the spectator participates in the masquerade and assumes a mask to engage in a camp reading of the work. To read and engage in Camp entails assuming the mask as a s pectator to read against the Camp accounts for the pleasure of the masquerade, and its status as amusement and play for both the masquerading viewer and the performer (Rob ertson : 14). This is liberating for female spectators; it opens up new possibilities for describing the kinds of pleasure a female spectator might take in mass produced objects that seem to support an oppressive patriarchal s : 14). O ften writings on spectatorship Gaze and the Frankfurt School, tend to reify beauty and pleasure, specifically female pleasure as either a consciously resistant activity or passive manipulation : 16). Sure, unexamined pleasure and its complicity with oppressive sexual regimes is a problem, but these models do not provide a way in which to name the pleasures taken by performers and audiences 16) It wrongly negates the communal and plea surable aspects of performance and spectatorship and t humor an d interpretive capabilities : 16) These models do not regard pleasure as an activity engage d by cultural agents Instead they view pleasure as a form of cultural domination that renders consumers and audiences passive and cultural dupes (Robertson : 16). Camp resolves this dichotomy by asking the viewer to be critical and take pleasure simultaneously. Neither model accurately capture s the deep complexities of texts and audiences, much less the contradictions of p leasure itself (Robertson : 16). overlapping features of passivity and activity,


23 negotiates these two extremes in order to account for both the complex and contradictory nature of camp spectatorship and its deep co (Robertson : pleasure as wholly resistant but to view camp as a parodic play between subject and object in which the female spectator laughs and plays with her own image herself from her own image by making fun of it, without losing sight the real power that image has over h bertson: 17). In terms of viewership spectators actively create camp effects I employ feminist camp a political and aesthetic weapon is because it speaks from and to a working class sensibility. It critiques the representation of working class women as gold diggers prostitutes, and whores; and negotiates attitudes towards women and work in times of feminist backlash. Camp uses these anachronistic images to challenge dominant conomic sphere. This is of particular importance the blow given to working class women by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh demanding insurance plans to cover birth control In terms of racial and racist attitudes Employing these strategies of class and gender specific signifiers such as dressing in working class clothes, colorful wigs, garish make up, fake jewelry, platform heels, long acrylic nails, and noxious


perfume. I explored gender, race, and class identity through what Moira Roth has mythology, feminist persona play arti sts dressed as and acted out characters that were Adrian Piper in her Mythic Being allowed women artists to examine and cr itique the alienating effects of gender and class conventions, and racial and ethnic identity while temporarily tresp assing their boundaries (Smith body is employed as a medium and material to explore the politics of individual and collective identity, theories of perception, and survey subject/object relations. The aim was to seek insight into being the object people saw, and that all identifications wer e socially constructed (Smith : 40). To engage diverse audiences, my personas uca, Chichi, and Tormenta Tropical appear and act in public places: roaming the streets, galleries, museums, bars, elevators, and dance floors. My avatars even appeared in viral ads and social networking sites to promote Porn Nail$ events. Staged in the public realm, it was important that these performances were encountered by non traditional audiences. Concerned with how to engage and reach my target audience, I gave considerable thought on how to distribute, circulate, and publicize my performative fictional personas like any art object/commodity in the market. To do this, I had to traverse the process of objectification and signification like an art commodity; which gave me an i mmediate and direct link to the art making process Through these embodiments, I negotiated identity


25 In the past, I have not made work in this manner. Personal trauma and personal experienc e transformed m y working strategies and political awareness These circumstances impacted my world view and further politicized me into feminism and queer discourse. To call attention to the important issues that affect my life and survival, I realized that t h e most effective strategy was direct action and performance. as a result of contemplating the nature of my position and circumstances as a working class embodiment and lived experience determined how I was treated in the world, than I polit social construct, performance and the locus of her identifications and experiences, the object of others perception of her was the only medium through which impact and change could be made in the viewer, the arti st, and between peop le (Smith : 41). She artist as an : 41). Her body was a medium of change, she resolved to use her body and identifications as agents of confrontation, in order to force change in viewers. As a result, she strategically launched her works outside the context of the art world, where her art could be encountered by lay audiences (Smith : 41). Borrowing Ad working methods, I was able to explore power relations and autonomy in my


performances with non traditional audiences : the power to act out on viewers e right to use aspects of my identifications in my artistic practice (Smith: 44). Further utilizing I emphasized virally my constructed identities via e flyers, websites, press releases, and street posters. Through these parodic representations, I enact an exaggerated femininity associated with inner city to give visibility to the marginalized populati on of working class, Hispanic lack specificity, my characters are fundamentally tied to a specific place, history, and context the urban ghettos of Miami, FL. Acco rding to film historian Richard Dyer, gender, a nd sexual groups. The rigidity of stereotype s points to how threatened the majority group feels by the stereotyped group. S tereotypes are thus designed to fix mal function Because stereotypes hinder and limit the subjectivity of the stereotyped individual, I afford my identities a measure of agency, power, and autonomy by allowing them to act on the audience as an outside object like an Yves Klein performance in reverse I paint the audience. In Porn Nail$, my characters are granted the power & sexist implications, which coalesce with my li ved experience as a class ed and raced


27 woman. Historically, people of color consequences of racial & sexual injustice and pursue the social, economic, political, and legal privileges traditionally accorded to whites and privileged males (Smith: 55). In order to construct and assert an identity, one requires an audience to witness and validate that identity. Identity and audience are inextricably linked because identity is a collaborative event The audience is responsible for the creation and reception of an identity. Like the documentary Paris is Burning emphasizes, it is the audience that decides surviva l; threat of violence. This is interesting notion as it pertains to race, class, sexuality, and of people based assimilation? Assimilation to what? Having grown up in Miami, FL a cultural melting pot of diverse races, sexualities, religions, and cultures, we are very proud of our color inhabitants are actively resisting assimilation and homogenization into American cultural pride as a political gesture. We we believe it is actually a good acknowledge that cultural vital to creativity and innovation a collage of ideas. In my recent travels to my hometown, in which I embarked on my photo series Meat, Saints, and Sweets I was delighted by this resistance to mainstream assimil ation by small acts such as


flamboyant dress, colorful architecture, street graffiti, and open practices of West African religions such as Candombl Vodou, and Santeria with shrines displayed in small businesses around the city. With Porn Nail$, I like to turn the tables and ask the assimilate style nail art a mark of the exotic on the fingertips as a form of cultural resistance. The relational aspect of nail art func tions as a moment of shared assimilation and intimate exchange. The question of assimilation is important to me because the notion of good who live outside conventional norms. This is of particular interest to me in the case of streets of lower income, ethnic working class neighborhoods, and the cultural erasure and the displa cement of people of color it instigates (Sycamore:3; 44). In response to these issues how to tran change society not to conform to it. It is a radical queer and feminist intervention into representation and cultural production. The purpose of my parodic performances is to both trample and reify stereotypes. Yet, I reify in order to expose stereotypes for what they are: socially c o nstructed and artificial perceptions injected with negative connotations I perform this in the way film director Qu entin Tara ntino appropriates and remakes B Movie genres such as B la xploitation Films, utilizing the positive a nd empowering attributes in herent in the genre by the way they actually parodied stereotypes, featured all black actors and black musicians in the albums soundtrack Foxy Brown featuring Pam Grier, was a gritty movie about black


29 female empowerment and overcoming adversity in a dang erous and racist world In Foxy Brown she is depicted as an inner city black power feminist that owns her sexuality, and fights against racial oppression and sexual victimization. In an recent article published in Art Papers titled The Attack of the Boogeywoman they coined this recent genre in exploring gendered racial stereotypes in visual aesthetics and pop culture Afrofuturism as t he creative ability to manifest action and transformation essential to the survival of people of color through shape shifting with themes that include identity; hybridity; aliens and alienation; cyberspace, belonging, immigration, migration and the vessel -corporeal and metaphoric -as vehicles of liberation It consists of the use of technology, avatars, West African symbols, and history to construct and like in the future. This is important in c hallenging mainstream technocul tural assumptions of a race less, post identity future Interestingly these recurring futurist Miami genre s appropriated remade, and transformed through the music and performance work of Miami based musician Otto Von Schirach who plays with the aesthetics and sound of e occult. It seems fitting, growing up in Miami as an immigrant from the Caribbean, I I ngrid LaFleur colonialism, the experience of alienation, and the adoption of various identities and


cultural syncret ism as a survival ta ctic. Shape shifting was a strategy to adapt to a new world filled with prejudice. Shape shifting creates a sense of protection, power, freedom, fluidity, and liberation a primary tool and aim of Afrofuturism. Black feminist Afrofuturist erotically violent struggle of a split [raced] femininity that cannot find a cohesive identity within the confines of everyday language (Richardson: 19). This is achieved by eliciting a hypersexulized and grotesque [raced] female body, which finds a home i n the work of several black women artists such as Wangechi Mutu, Shoshanna Weinberger, Kara Walker, and Niki Minaj. It is a genre in which pathologized performances and inventive iconography render the visualization of [raced] female identity as problemati cally productive and productively problematic (Richardson: 19). An type of work simult aneously enjoys and critiques ideal beauty standards and the takes the terrors of a racist history and amplifies them to a mutant proportion, while conflating art e nvision alterity as it relates to hybrid corporality, race, and gender issues that take on radically new lives within Afrofuturism (Richardson:20). These works feature two elements that hail from the grotesque: the combine and the caricature, which conju re corporality (Richardson: 20). Here, the combinatory avoids fixity and encourages hybridity and fluidity such as the use of avatars The use of caricature deals with the cartoonish exaggeration of racial phenotypes in order to interrogate their absurdity and earn the viewers squeamish attraction (Richardson:20). According to Umberto Eco, the


31 gnizable social category and it exaggerates an aspect of the body to deride or denounce a moral Afrofuturism women artists use of social critique. It is a relevant strategy, for the 18 th who endured heinous objectification and emblematized a culture of anthropological display, a living specimen can still be found today. The bodies of women of color continue to function as an insignia of the grotesque for white audiences. The self making that challenge and offend bourgeois aesthetics, because the grotesque is a ge nuine antibourgeois style (Richardson: 22). Afrofuturism as a field of speculative fiction that explores the post identity and post race politics and its atte mpts to forget ethnicity, dismissing it as a once material nightmare, while persistent acts of racism continues to exist. I find the use of the grotesque as an empowering force, because it is a reclamation of carnal desires, repressed in th racially pure, empowerment for women of color, I am claiming my right to sexual representation, ple asure, desire, and visibility even in the midst of racism, misogyny, intimidation, and outside threats of sexual violence, in order to envision an optimistic future. To make such a decision is in itself a bold, feminist act. I am aware that this way of th inking is controversial, since women of color have historically been violently sexualized in a racist society, and continue to do so today. Nevertheless, as a woman of color I continue to


fight for sexual agency and freedom of expression about how our oppression has functioned through the racialization of our sexualities tight rope. But if no one does, these issues will sim ply not be addressed. I walk this tight productively problematic I t is an artistic style I attribute to I always go for the jugular.


33 XXX Encounters In Latin culture, the simple act of sharing a colada with others becomes a model for my relational practice. As an artist, I want to provide access to this alternative gift giving economy instant pleasure, and social exchange in order to establish a friendship culture. Porn Nail$ first exhibited at the Locust Projects in Miami, FL in the summer of 2012. It was part of an exhibition I put together in collaboration with artist Heather Miller called Female Hu$tle which explored issues and strategies in Third wave feminism. I set up Porn Nail$ salon and worked as my alter ego hichi inside the white cube space for 1 month. I commis sion ed graphic designer Rebecca Tellz to create and paint the Porn Nail$ logo on the walls of the space facing traffic and I hooked up a parodic video demo explaining the mission of this site specific project The gallery staff took appointments and advertised Porn Nail$ services using the local press and social networking sites. This created a situation where women from all walks of life entered the exhibition space to get their nails done and strike a conversation. The user and I both co authored the nail art, from the choice of paint to nail design, and we would exchange hilarious, intimate details about our lives such as romance, femininity, work, and sexual politics. Sometimes the waiting room would be filled with people, and to pass the time my clients would collectively gossip, dance, sing, and te ll sexual jokes with each other while listening to my playlist of loca l Miami Bass and Freestyle music. My favorite part was the reactions of those who got their nails tricked out some screamed, moaned, ve never felt s o No one has ever given me One


women came in with her friend for an appointment, saying she brought her in because applying sparkling and colorful nai hands. A singer by the name Azuka Bazuka also stormed into Porn Nail$ thrilled by the concept of the show, declaring that she was a self identified female hustler who used pleasure an d sexuality for s elf empowerment. She came in with long nails done at the local flea market, just so I could paint them. I also received a lot of male clients who were extremely excited to get their nails painted, and talked about how liberating it wa s for them to do it, that the act had profound meaning for them in terms of sexual and cultural understanding Some women made comments about how sad they felt that they allow it. Female clients would come in with gifts such as cookies, coffee sandwiches, and even money to show their gratitude and to help sustain the Porn Nail$ project. I t was an ambience filled with joy, laughter, excitement, conversation, and bonding. Personal memories, stories of hardship and success, and novel ideas were exchanged in the social transaction of friendship. The meaning of the pi ece was co created by me as performance artist and through the act of choosing the site and by the audience who engaged with the work. Porn Nails Elevator was part of a show called Appropriated Gender at 1410 gallery. The elevator was public and residenti al. The salon literally went up and down functional nail salon installed in a public elevator. They woul d burst into laughter at the


35 absurdity. They would run into the elevator pressing buttons and dancing to Miami bass. We would co produce the nail art by selecting colors and designs, and they would tell me stories about their lives, jokes, relationships, their love of nail art underrated in Broward county The spectators would fill the elevator to maximum capacity as I picked up more people. Cramped, they were forced to look at the user s and I conversing and producing nail art. In a nother in stallment of Porn Nail$ E levator at U niversity of F s ArtBash 2012 I also set up a nail salon inside the elevator ; picking people up and dropping them off several floors in exchange for nail art. Surprisingly, two young women showed up dressed in their own campy Latina alter egos and performed live with me in front an audience. They sucked on lollipops, wore garish makeup and miniskirts, spoke exaggerated Spanish and we took snapshots of each oth er in a group photo. It was the first time the audience performed with me as their own manufactured identity. as uca and Erin Hateberry my nail tech assistant, performed as Tormenta Tropical. We both performed nail art on two separated nail tables. I also installed a D.I.Y nail station so participants can make their own nail art with friends and strangers. The nail salon environment was c overed in splashed and dripped paint, pink and yellow dots, and circular mirrors on the wall. Paint oozed and dripped on the nail table, filled with assorted Miami kitsch objects such as Santeria candles, fake gold jewelry, a can of Vienna sausages, and Vi rgin Mary statues dripping with nail polish. Miami Bass and Freestyle music was blasting from my subwoofers, creating the vibe of an inner city nail salon. A huge line and crowd surrounded Porn Nail$. The audience watched me and


Erin perform nail art, eave sdropped on conve rsations between the user and myself, and walked around the installation discovering the objects and artifacts scattered throughout. Spectators would watch in awe fascinated by the live production of work within the gallery, and their acce ss to participate with the work itself. Viewers would laugh and find humor in kitsch objects that they recognized from their own lives. They would walk around the installation aware of the ironic and parodic links between objects and their strange juxtapo sitions. The users and spectators were fascinated by my nail table as a form of collage/sculpture. The glass table top was collaged with porn, featuring women with extravagant nail art. They woul d laugh and a ssert that these images were subversively empowering Users would sit in the chair, excited to get their nails done. I would greet them and put a hot pink feather boa on their shoulders. When I did this, their face would transform into extreme happiness and laughter. We both would pick out color s and designs, and engage in conversation. They would laugh and giggle as they scanned the and oozing nail table surface. This laughter was the recognition of my character engaging in self parodic camp performance through female masquerade, the recognition of female pleasure, and that the line between the sacred and the profane was being crossed within the gallery. They recognized that femini ni ty was a performance and artificial construction, that even porn was camp and filled with hilarious con ventions. One female user said she loved the project because she loved the link I was drawing between femini ni ty, labor, and commerce through explicit hustling in a gallery. Another user even perfor med as her alter The most significant part of the MFA Porn Nail$ audience is that it consisted of people


37 who are fans of the Porn Nail$ Face Book page, Tumblr, Twitter, and R eddit. The Due to popular demand, Porn Nail$ is go ing on tour brining Nail Art, Miami Bass, communities demographics, and cultural contexts I will also be attending Nail School this summer to b ecome a licensed nail tech in a project called G my papers which documents the life of my alter ego uc a Additionally Freestyle record, featuring a low tech and hilarious pastiche paying homage to old school such as Debbie Deb MC Luscious, and Lil Trimm I plan to incorporate Porn Nail$ with my live music performances while users get their nails did by fellow nail artists in the midst of lasers, disco balls, and fog machines. In the future, I want to exhibit Porn Nail$ Utilizing Nail Art as a tool of connection, I believe in establishing a the way we share a colada with strangers and pals Ultimately, in art as a feminist gesture It is dedicated to those who actively pursue beauty B eauty is an aesthetic use of fairness enjoying fair relations with others In the essay Elaine Scarry asserts that The beholder, in response to seeing beauty, often seeks to bring new beauty into the world, it is an alteration of the self additional to the fact that Beech : 41) Beauty places requirements on us for attending to the aliveness of our world, for entering into its protection ( Beech: 42). In this way, o ne participates in it is a contract ( Beech: 42 ) In contemporary art, a renewed desire for the gratification of beauty entails a flexibility and empathy toward


Beech: 47) It is the task of contemporary art and criticism to imagine beauty as an experience of empathy and equali ty; to discover the bonds between value and mutuality forged in aesthetic response, a beauty that moves us to pleasure, that pleasure will be seen as life enhancing rather than Beech : 49). I beli eve that beauty and pleasure can be empowering and transformative; that there is a fundamental reason that it exists. Beauty and pleasure gives us hope power, and optimism in our darkest days. Beauty helps us heal psychic and physical wounds. Beau ty makes us aware that our worl d and the people in it are beautiful, that we are beautiful ourselves


39 Bibliography Bataille, Georges. The Accursed Share V.1 Consumption New York: Zone Books, 1991. Batchelor, David. Chromophobia London: Reaktion Books, 2000. Beech, Dave. Beauty:Documents of Contemporary Art Cambridge and London: Whitechapel Gallery Ventures Limited, 2009. Betterton, Rosemary Betterton. Intimate Distance: Women, Artists and the Body. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. Bourriaud, Nicolas. Postproductio n New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2007. Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics Paris: Les Presses Du Reel, 2002 Braidotti,Rosi. Nomadic Subjects : Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press ,199 4. Butler, Judith. Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge, 200 4. Candelario, Ginetta. Black Behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity from Museums to Beauty Shops Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007. Cartwright, Lisa; Sturken, Marta. Practices of Looking : An Introduction to Visual Culture New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Gouma Peterson, Talia. Miriam Shapiro : Shaping the Fragments of Art and Life New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1999.


Hantelmann, Dorothea Von. How to Do Things with Art Zurich: JRP|Ringier, 2010. Jacobs, Katrien. Netporn: DIY Web Culture and Sexual Politics Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc, 2007. McNair, Brain Striptease Culture: Sex, Media and the Democratization of Desire London and New York: Routledge, 2002. Mendible, Myra. From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film and Culture. Austin: Univeristy of Texas Press, 2007. NAILgasm DVD. B RASS 2012. Nead, Lynda The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality London and New York: Routledge, 1992. Richardson, Jared. Grotesquerie in Afrofuturism Art Papers. November. 2012 < > Robertson, Pamela. Guilty Pleasures: Feminist Camp From Mae West to Madonna. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1996. Sabo, Anne G. How Women are Transforming Pornography and Why it Really Matters Winchester: Zero Books, 2012. Smith, Cherise. Enacting Others Durham & London: Duke University Press,2011. Sycamore, Matt Bernstein That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation Berkeley: Soft Skull Press, 2008


41 Porn Nail$ MFA Exhibition 2013: uca & Tormenta Tropica






Locust Projects: Female Hu$tle 2012. hichi with Azuka Bazuka


47 Porn Nail$ Elevator: Appropriated Gender & Art Bash 2012. Fans came dressed up as their Latina alter


Porn Nail$ : Publicity uca hichi


49 uca


Nailgasm : The Nail Art Documentary


51 Bio Sketch Rosemarie Romero was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Miami, FL. She received her BFA at Florida International University, and MFA in Creative Photography at the University of Florida. Her work has been exhibited at Locust Projects, The World E rotic Art Museum, Frost Art Museum, Art Center / South Florida, and Art and Culture Center of Hollywood among others. Her work has been featured in Art Practical, RT America, ColorLines, The Sun Sentinel, Miami New Times and Nailgasm : The Nail Art Documentary