Maja Malou Lyse: MM
30 Aug – 26 Oct 2024
opening: 30 Aug 2024, 15:00

Commanding her own unapologetic artistic playground that interlaces sex education, feminist theory, mass media, her own bodily posture, and porn, Danish artist Maja Malou Lyse points at the female body as a site of both exploitation and empowerment.

For her exhibition at O—Overgaden, Lyse follows one of the most iconic female images in media history: Marilyn Monroe’s heralded undressed Playboy centerfold, crowning the magazine’s first ever issue in 1953. Lyse’s investigation sets off from the fact that the Playboy Incorporation’s founding father, Hugh Hefner, used Monroe’s image without her consent, thus building an entire sex empire on stripping the female subject of autonomy—making this potentially the first ever revenge porn act to flood mainstream media.

Chasing this story in her show, titled MM—the acronym of both Marilyn Monroe and Maja Malou’s first name—Lyse journeyed to an auction in Hollywood to acquire Hefner’s privately owned original of the Monroe nude: a gold-framed photograph that the magazine magnate signed on its front and kept in his home, the Playboy Mansion, up until his death in 2017. Installed as a ready-made, the infamous photograph will be flanked by a film following Lyse’s pursuit to acquire this particular piece of Monroe memorabilia: a complex contemporary symbol of how identities are continuously constructed, circulated, and sexualized; and, not least, of how Monroe and Hefner are still significant cornerstones of our collective (sexual) consciousness. MM thus asks who owns an image—posing questions of representation and domination, branding and spectacle.

Maja Malou Lyse (b. 1993, DK) is a Copenhagen-based visual artist, holding an MFA from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (2022). Beyond hosting the TV show Sex med Maja (Sex with Maja) on DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) in 2018–19, Lyse has exhibited at, among other venues, Copenhagen Contemporary (2022); Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense (2020); ARoS, Aarhus (2019); Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2019), and Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2015).

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