Valuations: Artist Martine Gutierrez Tells Us About Her Island Dreams and Why Her New Favorite Dress Is Made of Toilet Paper
So much of the art world orbits around questions of value, not only in term of appraisals and price tags, but also: What is worthy of your time in These Times, as well as your energy, your attention, and yes, your hard-earned cash?
What is the math that you do to determine something’s meaning and worth? What moves you? What enriches your life? In this new series, we’re asking individuals from the art world and beyond about the valuations that they make at a personal level.
If you’ve been to the Whitney recently, you likely saw the billboard directly across the street, on the corner of Gansevoort and Washington. That would be Supremacy, the latest in a series of public art commissions from the museum—a photo reproduced as a 17-by-29-foot vinyl print by Martine Gutierrez (through March 2023). In it, the artist lies on a pink shag rug wearing white lace lingerie, surrounded—and attacked—by similarly clad Barbie dolls.
Gutierrez creates art that subverts ideals of female beauty and sexuality as commodified and sold by mass media. Something of a chameleon, she stars in her photo, film, and performance works, which reference self-branded celebrities such a Kim Kardashian while constructing identities on her own terms.
Represented by Ryan Lee Gallery, Gutierrez has had her works exhibited everywhere from Performance Space New York to the Venice Biennale to bus shelters across the U.S. And, further incepting pop culture, the artist recently made her acting debut as Karina, a mysterious beauty queen on the bilingual HBO sitcom Los Espookys.
In between takes, and while preparing a secret Supremacy performance set to happen next month at the Whitney—not to mention a new body of photographic works to be unveiled in the new year—Gutierrez gamely responded to our Valuations queries. Aptly, she also slipped in a few of her own.
What did you wear to your last opening?
A dress made from recycled toilet paper. I’m tired of wearing Supremacy.
What is the last thing that you splurged on?
What is something that you’re saving up for?
A fingerprint vault. Valuable materials have recently come into my possession that could change everything.
What would you buy if you found $100?
A fresh bouquet of flowers—the girl in season, all the same color; glass vase, until they die; dry them, make a crown; wear crown, celebrate.
What makes you feel like a million bucks?
A good night’s sleep in a big, empty bed.
What do you think is your greatest asset?
What do you most value in a work of art?
The unresolved. Works that answer their own questions rarely ever ask any of their own.
What, in your opinion, is the most overrated thing in the art world?
My Italians are going to come for me, but obviously the Mona Lisa. She is the metaphor of overexposure.
Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?
Heesoo Kwon. Her renderings of the female nude elicit something intangibly new, a digital interface for the spirit to find liberation, free from reality’s shame.
Who is an overlooked artist who hasn’t yet gotten their due?
Maryam Hoseini. Her works reframe figuration, liberating her characters’ repressions with colorful humor. Maryam’s cultural intersection as an Iranian woman and immigrant give greater context to today’s political momentums, namely the liberation for women in Iran happening now.
What’s not worth the hype?
What’s your type?
Someone from the future.
What do you believe is a worthy cause?
Women. Life. Freedom.
What do you aspire to own someday?
An island, but it must be gifted to me (see: Naomi Campbell).
What is priceless to you?
The freedom to be myself.
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