The Altar of Camp – Mae West

The Altar of Camp – Mae West
One textile + objects, performance lecture + seance (15 min) and headdress worn by Norrman while lecturing
2023


The Altar of Camp – Mae West is a series of works in tribute to Maria Norrman’s long time favourite Hollywood star Mae West (1893-1980), actress, playwright, sex symbol.

At the opening of the exhibition Växa at Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Los Angeles, Norrman gave a lecture performance about the life of Mae West, about her legacy and on Norrmans relation to her.

It was opened and closed by a mini seance in which Norrman requested the presence of the star herself by using the textile artwork, and wearing a headdress which is devoted to Mae West.

Mae West (1893-1980) was an actress, playwright, singer and sex symbol who was known for her sexual independence and her (self-written) lighthearted double entendres, delivered with her husky voice + Brooklyn accent.
She had a seven decades long career which included vaudeville, burlesque, acting for the stage and silver screen, writing and singing.



The Altar of Camp – Mae West
Textile, objects, photographs
50 x 30 cm/19.6 x 11.8 inches
2023

The Altar of Camp – Mae West shows the star in the three different stages of her SEVEN DECADES long career in showbusiness –
– as a young risqué flapper in the 1910s and 20s.
– in middle age at the height of her trademark camp style in the 1930s.
– and her crone years as 70+ woman, still glamorous and genuinely her own.

The gaze of the young and old Mae’s are looking towards the middle pictures, as she in that phase of her life had made herself into the image she thereafter was.



The Altar of Camp – Mae West
Headdress worn by Norrman while lecturing
2023


The headdress shows the first photo Norrman ever saw of Mae West. She saw the photo at age 15 at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and thereafter read and researched everything she could find on Mae West.

The headdress connotes both burlesque Mae Westian glamour and priestessily goddess devotion, and was shown along with the script of the performance lecture.


Installation images from Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Los Angeles: