Marie Antoinette in America  is an ongoing series of performance, video and photographic works set within or referencing the open landscape. Based loosely on a variety of 18th century schemes to build a home-in-exile in the U.S. for the fleeing French royal family, this series imagines that Marie Antoinette has escaped the French Revolution and settled in the American west. I perform the character wearing a tumbleweed wig, as if she has been alone and wandering for so long that tumbleweed has lodged itself in her hair, or as if she herself has blown in on the wind. Each work in this series portrays the character’s attempts at livelihood or survival and explores the roles available to her based on gender, class, and skill set. The landscape is used as a metaphor for a psychological ‘wilderness;’ it implies isolation and makes her societally-based efforts at survival all the more inept.  While this premise begins with a historical reference, it does not investigate the particulars of the real Marie Antoinette’s history in much detail. I am interested in her emblematic role in the popular imagination as a representation of opulence and excess and as an ultimately tragic figure, but the character in this work quickly becomes a foil for the exploration of my own motivations and desires. Externally, the character of Marie Antoinette allows me to investigate class, privilege, sexuality and power while internally this character allows me to examine my own conflicts in these arenas. The auto-voyeuristic component in this work, seen in the inclusion of mirrors or even simple self-conscious gestures and expression, acknowledges this internal query. This project allows me to explore a variety of scenarios related to labor and leisure, culture and solitude, penance and self-discipline.
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