Saturday, February 21, 2009
Artist Response No 7
In 1996, a Web site that claims to be the work of an adolescent girl appeared at mouchette.org. When clicking on the link, one is inevitably confronted with a lurid close-up picture of a white,pink flower. On its petals one can see ants and flies crawling. In the left corner of the picture , a portrait of a sad-looking girl and the following text: "My name is Mouchette/I live in Amsterdam/I am nearly 13 years old/I am an artist" is depicted.
As it is pointed out in the excerpt, the site's content appears to have a deceptively innocent quality. Unfortunately, the link to her site doesn't exist anymore. Even the online search via "youtube" only offers a connection to Robert Bresson's film, "Mouchette," from 1967 about a suicidal adolescent girl who is raped in a forest at night.
However, Mouchette's homepage seemed to be equiped with many feature, interactive Web forms, including multiple-choice questions that trigger delayed-reaction e-mails to users. There is also a listing of members of Mouchette's international fan club, which includes art institutions around the world. All these contemporary web features require a lot of knowledge and know-how.
This undoubtedly arises the question if this "sophisticated" Web site could really be the work a 13-year-old girl? Probably not! Nonetheless, the true identity of the artist behind mouchette.org has remained unknown.
In the online excerpt is furthermore mentioned that by clicking on the word "artist" on the home page one is led to a page with the following text: "An artist? Yes. Here is a tip: I heard that the only way to become an artist is to say you are one. And then you can call "art" everything you make.... Easy, he?". Since the distiction between art und no-art has become so blury and indefinable, I partly agree with this statement. Who would actually dare to contradict an artist who claims to produce art. In earlier centuries people might have had a clearer perception of what art had to be like, but nowadays, peoples' tolerance has increased and art has become so abstract and multifaceted that almost everything can be considered to be art.
However, it really seems disputable that a statement like this came from a 13-year old girl. This point gives room to a further aspect regarding online webpages. Since it hasn't been possible to find out who or what the real "Mouchette" is, one might just argue that her home page is another example of an manipulated online identity.
Nevertheless, I picked Mouchette because it made me curious and presented something mysterious.