A New York graphic artist’s provocative collages humourize and absurdify the male gaze
Giulia Marsico sees vaginas everywhere. Upon recognizing the “yonic” (that is, the female counterpart to phallic) nature of everyday objects, sights and structures like hallways, Giulia endeavoured to find a way to represent their analogous relationships to women’s bodies. Now, Giulia subverts the ubiquity of misogyny by transposing innocuous images of things like architecture and coffee cups onto pornographic stills, cleverly interrupting objectifying gazes with humour and absurdity.
“It’s conflicting. I feel aroused, but this is so gross, what is this? I feel aroused, but this is also a water fountain,” She laughs. “Why? Why am I feeling aroused? It’s fun.”
Right now, the 26-year-old Chicago-born artist as is readying Herself for a career-defining move to New York. In the midst of a life that took Her around the country and left Her without an IRL creative community in which She felt She could flourish, Giulia found companionship and a receptive audience for Her inventive collages online. And for close to a year now, this Gemini goddess has been grappling with Instagram notoriety.
“Instagram is my personality spikes. Most of the time I’m very levelled. But I’ll have these moments, these bursts when I’m listening to crust punk or whatever and am high-energy . . . I’m a highly sexual person, but I don’t get around . . . I’m very sexually overt on social media, but in person, I don’t feel like I come off that way.”
Giulia’s art also speaks to how certain “female-coded” bodies are objectified without consent, with real personal consequences.
“[I] have big boobs and a big butt [and] people look at me and they sexualize me, but I don’t ever feel like I’m as sexual as my art is,” She shares. "A lot of stuff that I post is very open to interpretation . . . Whereas in person, that’s not how it is at all. I’m very opinionated, I like speaking my mind all the time.
“[On] Instagram, I [could be considered] an egotistical or hyper-sexual slut. But when you get to meet me and see me in person, it’s just like, ‘She’s a normal person.’ I’m still trying to figure it all out.”
Giulia represents a cohort of fourth-wave feminists who are not only displaying their work, but performing it online and living it through real-life extensions of their internet personae. In making art and performing an online self that draws elements from Her own sexuality, Giulia has had to navigate the tenuous territory of a public platform where everybody can have a say — whether they understand the message behind Her collages or not.
When it comes to the integration of photos of Her personal life and self with Her creative output, Giulia comments that “Sometimes . . . I would rather just stick to art. But at the same time, I want people to know who’s behind it. I like how people know it was me . . . The pictures of me came before the art. I’d like to still maintain that.”
Her experiences raise questions about whether or not an artist’s social media presence can be considered a form of performance art. Recently, Giulia debuted a piece using a photo of Her own body. “I do like that idea of integrating myself into it,” She says.
Besides collaging and preparing for Her move to New York, Giulia is keeping busy designing merchandise for musicians and taking part in the Tramps Against Trump movement. She has this advice to impart to budding girl artists:
“Don’t be afraid to be who you want to be. Just keep pressing forward, pass that self-doubt and continue to be as creative as possible.”
Giulia Marsico is a graphic designer and visual artist who will soon be collaging and flourishing in New York.
Dre aspires to be the patron saint of coat check girls and stray bleached hairs.