THE NEW ME | ROSIE GIBBENS
The New Me (2022) is a video artwork by Rosie Gibbens in which the artist, in collaboration with an actress, stages a satirical and provocative performance of an infomercial. The British artist’s practice configures in the performing arts aiming to construct a critique of contemporary society, addressing issues such as gender stereotypes, sexist politics and the culture of consumerism.
The video begins with three different scenes edited simultaneously side by side, each with a different colored background (red, green and blue) and a white halo in the middle. The entrance of the actresses changes the rhythm, female figures with slow, repetitive movements begin to show the function of three objects, one for each scene. The protagonists’ movements are accompanied by a soundtrack of unsettling noises – a velcro fastening, the dull sound of footsteps in the mud, an electric toothbrush, a swallowing – while in the background there is a disturbing yet conventional music, almost like a suspense scene from a horror film. The sound, contrasting with the pastel shades chosen for the setting, contributes to the feeling of disorientation.
The items ‘put up for sale’ are peculiar and atypical, certainly not really on the market but shown to the viewer as if they were real objects in an infomercial. Gibbens said that she chooses the objects for her performances, including The New Me, based on how they work: the more niche or useless they are from a practical point of view, the more fascinated she is by them.
The video shows a cleaning outfit called ‘Cleaning outfit’: soft blue and white pads are placed on the actress’ abdomen, arms, face, breasts and buttocks, sewn onto a tight white bodysuit. An indispensable accessory is a plastic bag to be placed on her back, to which a nebulizer is attached. The choice of portray a woman who uses every part of her body, even her face, to do the cleaning is the first provocation that Gibbens stages.
The second commercial ‘offering’ is a fitness machine, the ‘Exercise machine’, which conceals a sensational dual function. The machine is composed by several parts: a base of exercise bike, a tight silver one-piece suit with a pillow on the belly, two long rods, braids of fake hair and a strange object with a knob on the side. While pedaling on the exercise bike and turning the knob of the strange object, the artist does a pleasant self-massage of the face and belly. ‘Exercise machine’ is presented as the innovative solution that allows to relax and engage in fitness at the same time, two divergent practices.
The third surreal proposal is ‘Brushing machine’, a dental cleaning machine. It consists of a denture made up of a series of gears that, turning with each other, rotate a brush placed in the middle of the dental arch. The whole is mounted on a strap that allows the machine to be attached to the head. Use in pairs, the person wearing the dentures can start the mechanism and thus brushing the teeth of another person. The result is a grotesque and disturbing teamwork.
The absurdity of The New Me invites the viewer to reflect on the world in which he lives, what are his real needs and what the induced ones.
The video was screened on the occasion of The New Me exhibition, for which the artist also created posters, brochures, merchandising items, NFTs and social filters that could be used by viewers, in order to complete the fake infomercial.
The New Me (advert): Super stylish and efficient cleaning outfit, 2022
Courtesy of the artist, commissioned by Daata © photo: Jon Baker
Featuring Rosie Gibbens and Mallika Joy