Picture it: Paris, 2014. A twentysomething woman in a shimmering gold dress that echoes the frames all around the Musée d’Orsay walks into one of the institution’s most famous galleries. She proceeds to sit down in front of Gustave Courbet’s “Origin of the World” (1866), pull up her dress, splay her legs, and show her vulva, clitoris, and possibly part of her vagina — the video is too grainy to be sure — to the visitors in the gallery. Guards panic, visitors seem taken aback, and in their shock they start recording the action, at several points even applauding. Did they think it was sanctioned? Are they enjoying the visual reference? Do they think the resemblance is uncanny? Not to be a stickler, but you can’t really see the clitoris of Courbet’s woman — the performer seems overzealous. The rest of the video is dull. The unsanctioned performance was by Deborah de Robertis, and you can friend her on Facebook.
UPDATED: Artist Betty Tompkins, who has probably painted more details of sexual organs than any other artist in history, reminded Hyperallergic on Twitter that Courbet’s masterpiece is anatomically incorrect:
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