After leaving a position at an ad agency as senior art director, MissMe looked to the streets of Montreal to serve as her new canvas. She began plastering her work on countless buildings in the urban landscape, reaffirming her identity as the “Artful Vandal”.
MissMe’s latest work, the Mickey Mouse eared “Army of Vandals”, was an idea born from her past experiences with censorship on social media. The nudity featured in her posts, as far as Facebook and Instagram were concerned, had been creating an unsafe space on the internet.
“I felt so insulted because it was once again the woman’s body being a danger to society”, says MissMe, “my nipple makes the internet unsafe? Have you seen what there is on Instagram and Facebook when it comes to hate speech?…So I decided to draw an image very similar to the one they censored and I just put it everywhere on the streets. Censor me now, bitch”.
The vandal is presented as a naked, masked woman in powerful, subversive stances. Her work challenges the typical stereotypes revolving around femininity and sexuality and aims to reclaim the female body from the mass media.
“The problem is that the media has taken our sexuality away from us and they use it to sell us products and this idea we can be liberated if we buy these things”, says MissMe, “and it’s always the same way and the same bodies as if the woman is only interesting through her body and sexuality, and that’s not what our worth is. Stop trying to sell it to us, we already have it, thank you very much”.
MissMe’s work was featured earlier this year in the Phi Centre, Montreal’s culture hub. With the help of her friends Phoebe Greenberg and Penny Mancuso, MissMe produced a video to promote her work at the Phi Centre which featured her very own army of vandals. The army consisted of 25 women who responded to MissMe’s post on Instagram calling for women to help her out with her project.
“I was overwhelmed,” says MissMe. “They didn’t even know what I was going to ask of them but they were so down and they were so dope. It was amazing”.
The women were painted while naked and filmed in positions of strength — not seduction — to accentuate MissMe’s idea of sexuality as something intended and not as a sexualised naked body. She also recreated her mask for all the women to wear, as though they were an extension of herself.
“I had the idea of this mask that represented me so much more efficiently than my own face,” she explained. “It’s a very real mix of who I am because I am a bit rebellious and I’m very serious about my opinions and activism, but I spend my time watching cartoons and I act like a kid…So it was really weird when I saw other people wearing my mask”.
Drawn on the vandal are phrases and images, almost like tattoos which characterize the unapologetic soldier MissMe has created. The words “It’s not me, it’s you,” as well as “Pussy Illuminati,” are among the many phrases used.
“The ultimate hidden power in this world is not the illuminati, it’s the pussy,” MissMe tells me, “it’s not above men or anything, it’s just a beautiful, serious power because we’re all made in vaginas”.
Words by Pia Araneta.
Images courtesy of MissMe.