NUDE is a moving image artwork by Alexa Seligman in collaboration with composer Donna McKevitt, performer Marivi Da Silva, poet Jan Noble and choreographer Phil Sanger. It is a homage to Marcel Duchamp’s painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) on the 50th anniversary of his death.
The themes of transcendence and trans-formation resound in this time-based visual work which interrogates the aesthetics of montage and close-up in a meta-cinematic context. The closer we get and the more we cut our subject to pieces, the less intimate we become with them. Yet the Nude transcends our gaze to glide on downwards in her ineluctable descent. So themes of female subjectivity and the female gaze, anti-objectivity and radical agency are explored.
Seligman returns to the original Greek conception of the Nude as ‘an enlightened state of mind embodied’, retelling the legend of the goddess Hera, who breastfed Herakles, her husband Jupiter’s son by a mortal woman, in order to give him godly powers. In so doing, milk flew from her breasts and created the Milky Way. The work takes up the theme of compassion, a state of mind through which humans transcend the boundaries of the self. As thoughts become rocks (the Nude) so drops of milk become the stars.