Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mark Ryden: The inspiration behind Gaga's meat dress?

I can't help but wonder if Lady Gaga - clad in a meat dress for the VMAs - drew inspiration from artist Mark Ryden's 'Incarnation'. I'm sure her getup can be interpreted in many ways, and if I'm going to put Gaga in a similar category Ryden, then I'd say her dress largely speaks to the idea of consumption.
Back in April, Mark Ryden explained his "Incarnation" piece: "There seems to be a complete disconnect between meat as food and the living, breathing creature it comes from. I suppose it is this contradiction that brings me to return to meat in my art. It surprises many people to learn that I am actually not a vegetarian. I don’t think it is morally wrong to eat meat. What I do personally is to try to remain aware of what I am eating and where it came from. I am not trying to preach a moral stance on anything in my art, but I find that juxtaposition of imagery can create a kind of distance and then an ensuing heightening of awareness.” I think Lady Gaga does something similar with her work, as she's often making references to/ criticizing/ commenting on consumption and consumer culture. (It's part of why I love her so much -- I can enjoy consuming her on a superficial level, but I also like the challenge of trying to figure out what she's about. And in so doing, she successfully brings awareness to my relationship to her - she makes me think about how I consume her, and consume in general. This seems to be Ryder's objective as well.)

On a basic level, I think her dress screams, "I'm not a piece of meat." Of course, there are additional analogies/interpretations to be drawn from her meat garb, including a criticism of homophobia and the lack of equal rights. According to Gaga, "If we don't stand up for what we believe in, we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're gonna have as much rights as the meat on our bones."

I could talk forever about Lady Gaga & her multidimensionality. But that is all for now. I'm tired. Here's a video of Ryden painting 'Incarnation'. Enjoy. Goodnight.