photo by Kalin Serapionov, installation view from Shifting layers exhibition, curated by Vladiya Mihaylova, 2017
The interactive installation Beauty 3+ comments on the phenomenon of catcalling. These calls from men to random girls or women are often still considered by society as innocent compliments. Ranging from calls like “smile, gorgeous” to whistling, comment like “nice ass” and proposals for dates or the exchange of telephone numbers, to aggressive stalking and insults in reply to rejections, this type of “flirting” is far from innocent and often even has a threatening character.
For this work, Albena Baeva hacked two kids’ toys; a talking parrot and a doll-head. Originally, the Beauty 3+ is a toy that is marketed to little girls age 3 and over. The toy consists of a female bust where girls can change the doll’s hairdo or add jewellery. As such, it’s sole pedagogical goal seems to be to confirm a role-model in which girls are nothing more than objects of beauty.
In it’s hacked form, the doll would catcall the gallery audience. The catcalls used are taken from real-world calls, collected by catcall victims and from the Dearcatcallers account on Instagram. The voice is recorded by Bulgarian actress Tanya Yorgova.
Beauty 3+ is an interactive installation that flips roles, catcalling gallery audience members regardless of their gender. She is here to remind what it feels like to be a victim of this of behaviour, to question borders of what is normal behaviour and how those are violated on a daily basis.