Camille Henrot Releases Erotic Nicki Minaj-Inspired Drawings in Wake of Live Television Confrontation
Take that, Miley.
In the simmering aftermath of the racially-charged Miley Cyrus/Nicki Minaj confrontation at the VMAs (aka the “what’s good?” heard around the world), French art star Camille Henrot has released a series of drawings inspired by Minaj, which will be on display at the YARAT Contemporary Art Centre in Baku beginning on September 24.
The airy, Matisse-like works on paper came to life after Henrot first watched the video for “Anaconda,” Minaj’s hit single which won the VMA for “Best Hip-Hop Video,” but missed the nomination for “Best Female Video” (thereby spawning a now-infamous Twitter war with Taylor Swift). The steamy video celebrates curves and even features a scene of Minaj spraying whipped cream on her chest.
“I was struck by how radical and majestic it was,” Henrot told the Guardian. “It didn’t seem particularly sexy to me. It seems more like a statement on forgetting stereotypes and embracing yourself. It is vulgar, but it is beautiful.”
Henrot says she was outraged by the “slut shaming” that followed the release of the video, but suspects that Minaj may have predicted such a pearl-clutching reaction from the media.
“I like to think she created Anaconda to evoke criticism. She has abused the typical ‘black music-video girl’ archetype to the very end, to catch attention and create hate—if only so we too can realise our aversion to the sexualisation of women.”
“Minaj is portraying the sexuality of women, the wild woman,” Henrot continues. “The dance is quite shamanistic and entrancing—she is challenging us to embrace our primal nature…she’s making herself a caricature of what people want her to be.”
While Henrot’s expressive drawings fail (likely on purpose) to capture the glitz and unbridled sexual charge of the video, they evoke some of the more nuanced ideas behind it in a way that’s certainly easier to digest.
Henrot, who received the 2013 Silver Lion award at the Venice Biennale, won the 2014 Nam June Paik award, and was honored last year by the New Museum, calls Minaj a “feminist icon.” Take that, Miley Cyrus.
Camille Henrot’s new Nicki Minaj inspired works will be on display for the first time in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” at YARAT Contemporary Art Centre in Baku from September 24, 2015–January 6, 2016.
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