Seduction 2 is a holographic self-portrait of the artist 1992, onto and through which, a slide of the painting “Belshazzar’s Feast” by Rembrandt van Rijn c. 1635, is projected.
Insurance value 5,000 Euros
Seduction 2 was first presented 1992, in front of a framed poster of Rembrandt’s “Belshazzar’s Feast” and illuminated from the front.
The artist gestures with her right forefinger, showing the back of her hand, either emulating the hand of God, writing on the wall in Rembrandt’s painting, or beckoning towards the spectator; but this gesticulation could also be regarded as an offensive signal.
In 539 BC, according to the Hebrew Bible, while Belshazzar King of Babylon, his concubines, courtesans and a thousand of his nobles were feasting and drinking from vessels of silver and gold, stolen from the Hebrew Temple of Jerusalem, “Suddenly there appeared the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster of the palace wall opposite the lamp, and the king could see the back of the hand as it wrote.” Daniel 5, 4
None of Belshazzar’s magicians could translate the message, although he had offered the diviner of these words, the rank of third in the land; then Daniel, a Jewish exile brought out of Judah, by Belshazzar’s father Nebuchadnezzar, for his godlike wisdom, was called on by the queen to explain the text and he pronounced: …Mene, mene, tekel, u‑pharsin. Here is the interpretation: mene: God has numbered your kingdom and brought it to an end; tekel: you are weighed in the balances and are found wanting; u‑pharsin: and your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.’ Daniel 5, 25 – 28, New English Bible
That night Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Mede took the kingdom.
The artist, who appears naked in the holographic installation Seduction 2, is frozen in the act of turning, perhaps back to traditional art forms, of which Rembrandt’s paintings are representative, where she impersonates God or a courtesan, or the unseen Jewish slaves of Belshazzar’s feast, or forward, through the hologram, the newest technology in art, to the spectator in the present, who sees both dramas. In order to view Rembrandt’s image, one must look through her — she is elusive but part of a historical process. In turning back, like Lot’s wife she risks petrifaction. The implication of this work is that the Jewish woman is trapped, in images of the seductress and slave but also as a corpse in the frozen pictures of the Jewish dead of the Shoah.
In looking forward, the artist’s signal to the spectator is therefore ambiguous, because it reflects the past as well as the present: a seductive summons and/or the defiant rejection of the patriarchal hegemony of history. Jean Baudrillard, in his book “Seduction”, after which this piece was named, sees a threat with the de-mystification of the signs and rituals of seduction, and the emancipation of women:
“Freud was right: there is but one sexuality, one libido — and it is masculine. Sexuality has a strong, discriminative structure centered on the phallus, castration, the Name-of-the Father, and repression. There is none other. There is no use dreaming of some non-phallic, unlocked, unmarked sexuality. There is no use seeking, from within this structure, to have the feminine pass through to the other side, or to cross terms. Either the structure remains the same, with the female being entirely absorbed by the male, or else it collapses, and there is no longer either female or male — the degree zero of the structure.”
Page 7, “Seduction”, Jean Baudrillard 1979, English translation 1990, Macmillan Education Ltd. ISBN 0−333−51076−3
“We are entering the era of final solutions; for example, that of the sexual revolution, of the production and management of all liminal and subliminal pleasures, the micro-processing of desire, with the woman who produces herself as woman, and as she, being the last avatar. Ending seduction.”
Introduction page 2, “Seduction”
1993 Solo exhibition. Department of Holography, Royal College of Art, London (GB)
1993 Group exhibition, Women in Art Practice, conference, Exeter (GB)