Simulacra (7)

By: Peggy Nelson
June 23, 2020

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt, reenacted by Hannes Zaugg-Graf and featuring Lea ~ and strategic post-its

When you’re stuck inside, a fun thing to do is play dress-up. And when you’re stuck inside indefinitely, with time to really lean into to some personal art direction, the sartorial stakes become correspondingly higher. During our globe-spanning COVID-19 quarantine, many people have taken the artistic leap from aspirational to inhabited, as they pose as famous masterpieces from art history.

Sometimes this happens en plein air, as this group of reenactors in Seville poses in the round for Velazquez’ The Surrender at Breda (detail, because they couldn’t assemble quite all the characters this year). Note the period-inspired masks!

The Surrender of Breda, by Diego Velazquez, reenacted in Seville, 2020

This group effort brings to mind a technicolor version of the tableaux vivants popular in previous centuries, where an entire community theater group would dress in togas and freeze as classical friezes for the duration.

And of course who could forget One Grecian Urn, as enacted by The Ladies’ Auxiliary for the Classic Dance (River City, Iowa)?

More often the quarantine reenactments are posed for the camera, and paired with a reproduction of the piece copied for social media. This greatly democratizes aesthetic access, as it can be done with any random stuff you find lying around the house, like an old blanket, some carrots, or the dog.

Agnus Dei by Francisco de Zurbarán, reenacted by Francesca Busca

Irises by Vincent van Gogh, featuring carrots, assembled by Cara Jo O’Connell and family

Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Vermeer, reenacted by a pug (@rmrphoto)

Meanwhile in Russia, members of the Facebook group Izoizolyacia are taking it to the next level, with incredibly detailed results, sometimes including body makeup for fabulous Fauvist highlights, or badgering everyone in the quarantine bubble to pitch in.

Leila by Alisher Kush, embodied by Helen Yushkova

The Night by Ferdinand Hodler, assembled by Andrey Bratov and friends

But the re-enactments are not confined to the bounds of realism, as demonstrated by this intriguing take on a Rothko…

Orange, Red, Yellow by Mark Rothko, reenacted by Tatyana Vassilyeva-Aralovets

… and this avocado.

The Scream by Edvard Munch, performed by an avocado, by Lunéville & Vous

But perhaps the most delightful examples are performed by four art-history-loving housemates who go by @covidclassics on Instagram, and are reenacting their way through the entire Western canon. Included is perhaps the most famous art restoration of the 21st century, particularly beloved by us here at HILOBROW, none other than Ecce Homo, or as he is more commonly known, Beast Jesus.

Ecce Homo / Beast Jesus, restored by Elías García Martínez / Cecilia Giménez, as embodied by @covidclassics


Check out these links for more:
Enrique Bocanegra and the reenactors of Seville
Izoizolyacia Facebook group


Kudos, Uncanny