The Question of Manet's "Olympia": Posed and Skirted, by the V-Girls, 1989–90

The V-Girls, Artist
The Question of Manet's "Olympia": Posed and Skirted , 1989–90

Single-channel video, color, sound
64:00 min.
Credit Line
Courtesy of the artists. Video stills courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum

The now-defunct V-Girls (Martha Baer, Jessica Chalmers, Erin Cramer, Andrea Fraser, Marianne Weems) was a performance collaborative of women artists who created humorous critiques of art historical discourse. Presented as a panel—a ubiquitous form of public program at academic conferences or accompanying exhibitions—during Mary Kelly's exhibition Interim at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City in 1990, The Question of Manet's "Olympia": Posed and Skirted features each character presenting a "paper" about Manet's famous depiction of a nude reclining woman. Drawing on disciplines including art history, feminism, and psychoanalysis, the presentations—with titles like "Manet's Olympia: The Beginning of the End of a Good Idea" and "The Representation of Representation and the Representation of Representation"—become humorous and playful, pointing to power dynamics and the role of language embedded in institutions.