Louise Orwin is a performance artist whose work deals with anxiety, humiliation, and expectations of femininity. She is currently based in London, after earning her MA in Performance in 2011, and her latest project, Pretty Ugly, is causing quite a stir.
Orwin found herself fascinated by a recent trend, young preteen and teenage girls creating videos for YouTube asking the mostly-anonymous commenters if they are pretty or ugly. Despite these videos almost always leading to a tidal wave of anonymous abuse, the trend rapidly gained popularity. Curious about why young girls would subject themselves to such harsh bullying and what it was like to experience the backlash of a “Pretty or Ugly?” video, Orwin decided to find out firsthand.
Using her performing chops, Orwin took on three teenaged personae for the project, called Becky, Baby, and Amanda, and made different videos for each one. Now, in a performance piece that will be running from 23 October to 9 November at the Camden People’s Theater, the videos she created will be combined with YouTube comments they received, and material from interviews Orwin conducted with the teen girls affected by this trend. Orwin hopes this project will not simply result in an entertaining performance, but also serve as a part of her continuing research into how social media is effecting our lives. Here is the blog she made specifically to document the progress of the Pretty Ugly project.
Orwin is also working on a series of photographs exploring women’s relationships with food and dieting, and her past projects include interactive performances and spaces that focus on creating a one to one connection between the artist and the viewer. If you would like to see more information on her work, check out her personal website.