GETTING HIGH WITH SOME MUMMY: LAURA GOZLAN’S REJUVENATION CURE
Nothing is really clear from the sidewalk on Caffarelli Street. To discover Laura Gozlan’s work, I have to enter in the Valeria Cetraro Gallery, walk on a thick carpet and circulate between the fluid pale yellow curtains that partition the space into small alcoves. These curtains are nothing like the carmine red fabrics that usually line the boards of our theatres and foreshadow an imminent plunge into the abyss of fantasy. The transparency of Laura Gozlan’s tulle lets me assume that here the border between dream and reality is fine, vicious and obscene. Their flexibility gives the room a contradictory atmosphere between the boudoir and the clinic specialized in cosmetic surgery. To rush into the recesses they offer is to risk meeting MUM, the character created by the artist for the exhibition : Youth Enhancement Systems®.
MUM, it’s a woman. She’s wearing a tight-fitting, creamy, bourgeois suit. Her hair is shaggy, her vocoded voice is deep and masculine, her face is ringed and worn out. With her rotten french manicure, she tries to turn on her Vogue, as if it would alleviate her lack a little. But it’s not tobacco that seems to be able to satisfy her desires. MUM is as if bewitched. On disturbing sound tracks, she prepares her spell. She is going to get high at the Mummy. By smelling the vapours of these bodies whose degradation has been slowed down, MUM hopes to transcend her humanity and move towards immortality. This woman seems to be losing her mind, going crazy, monstrous and pathetic. Alone, she indulges in an obscene and necromantic business. She composes an occult ritual for the sake of a frantic race towards the perpetuation of her youth. With eroticism, she caresses, licks and sucks rotting limbs, which she then uses for her mixture.
At first it was very difficult for me to identify what I was feeling when I was watching MUM. To tell you the truth, for a long time I despised those women who wanted to stay young; those women who put a delirious amount of money into anti-ageing creams or those whose skin is outrageously tight and whose lips are heavy with injections. I didn’t realize that macho oppression could so overwhelm our bodies and make menopause an expiration date. I did not realize that the injunctive poison of a phallocrat society was intruding into myself, forcing our bodies to be smooth, penetrable and fertile. To be the bearer of this contempt was also to support this double injunction which demands from us on the one hand a normalized and necessarily fixed beauty, and on the other hand which makes a fool of anyone who tries to remain desirable for as long as possible.
MUM sweeps it all away. She’s alone and she’s the only one who decided to get high. It doesn’t matter that she is being asked to let gravity pull her breasts and cheeks to the ground, it doesn’t matter that she is being blamed for wanting to make her body her own by sticking silicone in it. Maybe that’s why I didn’t know how to apprehend MUM at first. Because this woman who gets high with an increased urinal in a water pipe doesn’t care about what is considered classy or nasty. What matters is her high. Her body is no longer a decorative element. It has forced her to an inevitable end, certainly, but one that she seeks to transcend. This body is also a means to ecstasy. Thus, no one dictates to the character of Laura Gozlan the conduct to adopt, no one denies her autonomy and her possibility to choose. What counts is her high. What matters is what she wants. What matters is her.