Danielle Georgiou’s intimate videos and photographs exploit and explore femininity and a desire to document beauty. They investigate the psychological effect of pop culture and social media on perceptions of the female body. These videos raise questions about what are acceptable behaviors in representations of women in popular entertainment, and what activities are condoned by contemporary social norms for women. By calling on female pop artists to provide the soundtrack to her life, Georgiou’s self-portraits are a direct response to her desire to be “perfect.”
Georgiou states, “#iwokeuplikethis is an installation of Stop-Motion Film and Large Scale Prints created in 2014. Using wall panels to break up the open space of the gallery, creating a maze-like pathway through the center of the space, I will project a stop-motion film of stills of my bed head. For nearly 150 days, I have been taking photographs at the moment that I wake up to capture the state of my hair and face.” She then uploads the raw image to her Instagram account, monitoring how many “likes” and comments each image receives.
Pulling inspiration from Beyoncé’s single, “Flawless,” which includes sections of a speech given by feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in which Adichie states that women are raised to see other women as competitors: “not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.” And even though she samples this speech, it’s as if Beyoncé is blind to Adichie’s message, because almost immediately following her sampling, Beyoncé sings, “bitches bow down” because she “woke up flawless.” In other words, she is better than everyone else and she has a power over men and women because of the way she looks. Her power lies in her physicality, which is supreme. Her body gives her power, and she, and all women, can use their bodies to control men.
Georgiou’s photographic and film series, #iwokeuplikethis, is a documentation of the beauty in the mundane. It is a tribute to physical honesty; it’s flawless in its purity. The technical nature of the images, the almost scientific quality of them, displays the method used to collect the data: the “selfie.”
The “selfie” is the most understood method of portraiture in popular culture today. It is both accessible and achievable. Anyone with a smart phone can take one, post it, and call it art. With #hashtag, Georgiou is exploring this trend and its iterations.
In another video, she dances in a shower, dissecting her body to only show her feet; a body part that is often seen as a point of fetish. Feet are a decisively feminine. Their shape, bone structure, and modes of articulation are one way to identify the feminine. They can lead you to truth and beauty and holiness: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). But they are also considered dirty and filthy: “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire” (Matthew 18:8). And yet, they can “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
Wrestling with herself in a dance of resilient loneliness, will Georgiou be able to wash the sins of her past away? Or will they be forever trapped in a moving image?
And further speaking to this social media trend of Andy Warhol’s original 15 minutes of fame, Georgiou has publicized the most famous asset of them all: the derrière.
On March 3, 2014, this headline went viral: “#belfie Queen Goes High-Fashion.” In January 2014, 20-year-old Jen Selter rose to Instagram fame thanks to her large behind. Dubbed the Queen of the Belfie (or the butt-selfie), Selter, and her butt, have become huge—pun intended. She’s has signed with a modeling agency, appeared on The View and Good Morning America, partnered with a fitness company, and had a 2-page spread in the April 2014 issue of Vanity Fair.
In a series of 12 photographs, Georgiou presents herself as a #belfie model. Posed in a delicate manner, her face is purposefully hidden so that her performance in the images is focused on the body alone. It becomes something to be watched and used, and eventually sold. The trick behind selfies is the angle that you take it. From one angle you are considered beautiful, from another, it’s a monstrosity. What will Georgiou’s #belfies reveal?
In a final video, #bible, “The Need for Frank Knowledge of Sex Shown in Words and Pictures” is performed. Speaking the introduction to Dr. David H. Keller’s Picture Stories of the Sex Life of Man and Woman from 1946, Georgiou explores a repressed sexual knowledge in American culture.