VB 25; Performance
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
Seven young women dressed identically in a polo-neck pullover, white petticoat, tights and high heels perform in the video 'VB 25; Performance' by Vanessa Beecroft. They have false eyelashes, red nail varnish and the same black wig. When the video starts, they are standing facing the camera, but after a few seconds the group splits up into different directions. The camera shows part of a neutral space and a corridor where the girls constantly change position but don’t really do anything. They slowly take a few paces, lean against the wall, sit on their heels and look around. They do not communicate with each other. From time to time the camera takes close-ups. The differences between the girls become more visible in this way. The video ends after thirteen minutes, showing six girls facing the camera.
Vanessa Beecroft has organized these sorts of performances since 1993. Every time she collects a number of young women who look the same, usually dressed in lingerie; in the most recent performances they also appear partly or virtually entirely naked. Sometimes Beecroft presents one type of girl, sometimes different types, in a single performance. During the performances there is minimal action. Beecroft explains: “People don’t perform, nothing is going to happen, they don’t start or end anything.” The girls are instructed not to communicate with each other or with the public, which means that their presence has a disorienting effect. At the same time they are both present and absent. Their identical appearance strengthens the sense that they are not actually real people.
This video was recorded in the Van Abbemuseum just before the opening of the 'ID' exhibition in December 1996. The performance continued during the opening. Beecroft uses the girls as living material in order to create an image. She confronts art with life, reality with artificiality. With this image she is referring to an ideal of beauty. Depending on the way they’re dressed, the girls remind the viewer of contemporary examples of beauty in the form of photographic models or mannequins, or of classical beauties in the arts.
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