Deborah De Robertis challenges Courbet’s Origin of the World

Guerilla Girls

Deborah De Robertis received applause from crowds at Paris’s The Musée d’Orsay, by holding open her vagina in front of “The Origin of the World” a masterpiece by Gustav Courbet.

The piece was painted in the 19th century. It depicts a women laying down with her legs apart, genitals on display. It refers to the concept of infinity, and has connotations to birth, and ‘the origin of the origin’.

Deborah talked to Luxembourg Wort to explain the performance.

“If you ignore the context, you could construe this performance as an act of exhibitionism, but what I did was not an impulsive act. There is a gap in art history, the absent point of view of the object of the gaze. In his realist painting, the painter shows the open legs, but the vagina remains closed.”

Deborah has raised discussion about why it is acceptable for a vagina painting to be on wall, but it is not okay for a vagina to be displayed in real life. She also calls out the original artist for not displaying the actual hole, that represents origin and birth, but stopping at just open legs. This relates to a larger discussion about the female nude, and female sexuality. Female nudes are usually painted by men, with men as the assumed audience. Deborah claims the naked female body back for women with this piece. Female artists have explored this point before, for example the GuerillaGirls.

A spokesman for the museum said “This is a typical case of disrespecting the museum’s rules, whether for a performance or not.  No request for authorisation was filed with us. And even if it had been, it’s not certain we would have accepted it as that may have upset our visitors”

In the footage you can see the crowd cheering for Deborah’s work as security try to decide what to do. During all this Deborah looks completely calm and determined. Artnet news, reported that two of the museum guards have filed sexual exhibitionist complaints against her. What do you guys think about Deborah De Robertis displaying her genitals? Drop us a comment or tweet @wnolculture.

Pictures: Tate

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