mehryl ferri levisse
scad museum of art savannah / géorgie (USA)
12.08.2021 - 21.12.2021
curator Ben Tollefson
site specific installation :
wallpaper, wigs, paintings from the collection, pedestal, mannequins, make-up portraits, window stickers
collaboration with the Drag Queens Veida Shimmy, Schlampakir Von Fickdich, Cookie Kunty, Hitsublu
→ this wallpaper is in the museum's collection
Mehryl Ferri Levisse’s multifaceted practice explores notions of subjectivity and identity related to queer experience. Using gendered symbols and imagery associated with pageantry, masquerade, and cabaret, the artist produces an extravagant visual language that interrogates commonly accepted conceptions of masculinity and femininity. Levisse’s performances and installations act as stages on which gender is remixed and obfuscated. Serving as emcee, the artist orchestrates space to question the limits of the body and the societal codes that constitute how we behave.
In White Wig, Ferri Levisse swathes the SCAD Museum of Art in a monochromatic pink wallpaper and purple translucent glass application of the artist’s design that include theatrical motifs like gloved hands, pom poms, fetish heels, wigs, glossy lips, and a velvet curtain. Mounted salon-style, a selection of paintings from the museum’s Earle W. Newton Collection of British and American Portraiture — chosen by the artist — featuring prominent English individuals of the 18th century in fashionable dress, are situated within an immersive, opulent pattern. Placing these society portraits within a taxonomy of symbols of femininity and performative gender, Levisse examines the use of hairstyle and dress as markers of status and identity that have been historically separated into the strict binary of man and woman.
Within this immersive staging, sculpted wigs created by five Parisian drag entertainers are displayed prominently on a velour-clad pedestal. The wigs function in dialogue with the portraits, contrasting the historic symbolism of the white wig in English society and courts. Centering the contributions of drag queens — artists who perform many aspects of gender — in the gallery space, Levisse reverses codes of power and blurs traditional boundaries of solo authorship, proposing a queer alternative that transcends the individual for the collective.
text by Ben Tollefson
curator of the museum
wallpaper, pattern, motif, papier peint, ornement
tous droits réservés © mehryl ferri levisse / adagp 2023