Performances > Cosmetic Madonna series 2001, 2002

Cosmetic Madonna
ArtHouse window onto Curve Street, Dublin
22nd November 2001

Immaculate Make-Over
No Name Boutique window, EV+A Limerick
March 2002

Cosmetic Madonna
Pery Square, EV+A Limerick
(EV+A Ci Quo Xhang Performance event)
April 2002

Special Thanks to
Curator Sarah Pierce (ArtHouse), Helena Walsh for photography & assistance

The relentless application
layer upon layer
of transfiguring cosmetics

Duration 3-4 hours in a public street/window

In the performance, I gradually obliterate my own image under successive layers of cosmetics. This is a transformative process in which make-up is used as art material, as creative and expressionist matter. I perform an elaboration on the identity of a Irish religious and cultural icon and female Goddess - the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary).

I become grotesquely masked by cosmetics but liberated from conventional behaviour and the constraints of socially constructed womanly beauty.
I use the characterisation of iconic Madonna and fertility Goddess figures to add humour and a certain pomp and majesty to the image. I am attracted to the figure of the Goddess as an exemplar and archetypal persona that embodies our highest aspirations as human beings. I also like the playful ironic pageantry in using these characterisations. I had created a 'multi-breasted' Goddess figure in earlier work and recast this image into the Cosmetic Madonna series.

I am also everywoman 'making-up', enacting a daily ritual but one that is elaborated and transgressed. I transform myself into a 'work of art' painted with succulent colours and textures in the manner of Abstract Expressionism and explore the materiality of cosmetics in the context of fine art practice.