Drozdik Orshi

Manufacturing the Self: The Hairy Virgin
/Az Én fabrikálása: A szõrös szûz/

1994. São Paulo Biennial, Brasil

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Artist Orshi Drozdik represents Hungary at the São Paulo Biennial with an installation titled Manufacturing the Self; The Hairy Virgin.
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São Paulo: The Hairy Virgin is the latest installation in Orshi Drozdik's Manufacturing the Self series, an ongoing investigation of the production of female identities in history. Linking Medieval narratives and contemporary cosmetic practices, the installation reflects on the presence/absence of body hair as a sign of female sexuality and desire. The installation consists of 16 aluminum forms containing used depilatory wax and 150 readymade hair removal kits (provided by Depyface). According to Drozdik, the installation "stretches historical gender practices around the appearance of hair: who should have hair, and where they are allowed to have it." Drozdik is particularly interested in "how we create/manufacture ouselves into standard social identities. We are always manufacturing ourselves in history, not only cosmetically, but also intellectually, emotionally." According to John Welshman of Harvard University, "the self-body in Drozdik's work is not simply trussed-up in a 'technology of gender,' it is imagined and imagining. It's environment is a reverse solarium for the imaginary." The Hairy Virgin continues Drozdik's Manufacturing the Self series, a group of installations that deal with the historical construction of female subjectivity. The series includes Body Self, Convent, Medical Erotic, Medical Venus, and Nineteenth Century Self. Drozdik explains that "Manfufacturing the Self is not about the physical body. It's about the body as a concept that links a physical organism to a social order in terms of political consciousness, moral development and national identity. The body is not abstract." Much of Manfufacturing the Self stems from Drozdik's research into the scientific approach to power: "how science wants to take part in power, and how science allows people to construct themselves in terms of class," Drozdik said. Drozdik says that "in Hairy Virgin I return to my obsession with the body. It's not accidental but neither is it characterisic of all my work. The Medical Venus, for example, is not about the body; it's about the eroticism that comes through in a piece of art which manifests medial knowledge and medical information." Orshi Drozdik is represented by Galerie Hans Knoll in Budapest and Vienna, Richard Anderson Gallery in New York, and Peter Kilchmer Gallery in Zurich.