“It’s been a lot of explaining,” Vanessa Omoregie told The Guardian when her camgirlsproject first got picked up. “Explaining that I’m not stealing pictures or pulling pictures of girls off random sites. These are real girls who want to contribute to what the project discusses.”
The submission project paired famous paintings of nude muses – Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (1486), Amedeo Modigliani’s Nudo Sdraiato (1917) and Guerin Pierre Narcisse’s Morpheus and Iris (1811) — with overlaid crops of camgirl-style self-portraits. The project has now ended, but its influence persists, particularly in the theme of agency. Like Addie Wagenknecht and Pablo Garcia‘s Webcam Venus project, camgirlsproject simultaneously addresses the nuances of a posing, self-presenting participant of an online interaction and how provocative bodies have been used in art through history.
What is especially interesting here is Omoregie’s emphases on the agency, the consent, the fully participatory self-evaluation that is happening — all in a fun and aesthetically enjoyable context. Considering the rolling changes in today’s online culture, as the perpetrators of revenge porn and other creepy hijackers of identity are finally being punished for their crimes, it’s nice to see a project focusing on an exchange like this.
Of course, there were some issues with the project, as The Guardian pointed out: “An almost complete reflection of the subject matter of the originals, the modern day nudes are mostly pale, nearly all white, and have stereotypically ‘good’ bodies (skinny, hairless – you know the drill). Omoregie, herself a black woman, is disappointed, although she has herself participated in the project and is proactive in trying to encourage more women to join in: ‘I was hoping that women who are not usually represented by the media would see this as a way to get their voice out there,’ she says.” (Images: camgirlsproject)