The exhibition title draws from Nam June Paik’s 1978 video, Tribute to GM (aka Video Venus), starring Janice Guy. In the live performance—an homage to the late George Maciunas—Paik plays Chopin on a baby grand piano while Janice Guy quite literally puts her foot in Paik’s mouth.
The prints on view were made in the mid-to-late 1970s, while Janice Guy was one of three women in a class of fifteen students at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. There she studied with Klaus Rinke and later with Bernd and Hilla Becher. For thirty years her early artwork remained in storage, held by fellow student Thomas Struth. When Struth and Guy finally exhumed the work in its entirety in 2008, Struth was astonished by the sheer volume of work that Guy had quietly made.
She had been focused on creating art that upends the male gaze: by working as both artist and model, voyeur and active participant, Guy invites the viewer into an infinite, illusory loop of both watching and being watched. In her best-known artworks, her torso is twisted and torqued like warped metal. The camera serves as her cyborg double—at once an extension of her body and a surrogate eye.
In another series of photographs, Guy records the incremental accumulation of a series of X’s painted on her face as she ultimately obliterates herself. Such repetitive acts of self-transformation, recorded and disseminated by the camera, predict today’s culture of Instagram filters and online avatars.