Miss Beige is an inveterate flaneur, wearing out her shoe (beige?) soles, wandering around bland neighborhoods, taking photos before the lowered blinds of a sex shop (Mundo fantástico), next to a parking meter (La bella y la bestia) or between ugly suburban buildings, because she knows that beauty is elsewhere.
Almost as if following the advice of Walter Benjamin to experience the street creatively and escape of the clusters that moves robotic by pre-determined paths, to Miss Beige (alter ego of Ana Esmith) you will not find her with a selfie stick before the tourist emblems of each city. In fact, the only stick that she carries is the hammer that peeks out of her beige bag. As for the photos, the author is her ally Maria Dain.
Her real things are more the subway stairs, platforms, benches to sit on … especially if they are occupied by retirees, workers having a kit-kat (Más buenos que el pan) and other common people who will not cease to cast a sidelong glance at this woman whose monkish appearance clashes with her little refined gestures, like the nasty habit of eating pumpkin seeds and spitting out the shells.
We will see her petrified in the middle of a station while the passers-by bustle up and down, or retired in some stand of makeup with poker face, although she also enjoys the fresh air, paddling with her boat (against the current, of course) in the water pond of the Retiro Madrid.
In Miss Beige collides the will of discretion (expressed in beige dress) and her appearance of rare avis. Looking for the utmost the fact of being oblivious to the aesthetic imperatives imposed on women can only be seen as eccentric in a society in which the common thing is an exacerbated narcissism, the hypertrophy of the self, as Lipovetsky wrote in The Era of the Void.
Q- Ana, could we say that the disruptive force (I take your words) of the character you created is above all to show by inverted caricature that the “normality” is pathological?
Everyone assumes to seek and want “the authentic” but few dare to be or to experience it. It requires great value and society does not allow it; so the difference causes so much uneasiness and heartache.
Beige is a dull but wonderfully normal color. We are so afraid of being rejected or pointed with the finger that we prefer to follow certain canons. We don’t mind being manipulated if that gives us some social acceptance. That is why Miss Beige challenges us and questions: And you, do you dare to be BEIGE?
Q- You studied in Philippe Gaulier’s school. From this clown’s guru you took his maxim: not bore the audience. And if I understand correctly his philosophy, the authenticity of the clown lies in knowing how to get out of one’s own comfort zone, laugh at oneself and help the other to get rid of his own role as well, trapped as we are in our own image. Laughter as a weapon to disarm the other?
Laughter as a weapon for everything; I laugh, therefore I am.
Q- Miss Beige intimidates with her silence and stony look. But that non-verbal language is complemented in the photos with titles that add another layer of humor, or you play with dissonances and double meanings within the image itself: eg, Miss Beige’s austere figure in front of a wall with the graffiti “always happy”, or next to the advertising sign “bites a lot”… slogans that emphasize the insubordinate character of this woman.
Insubordinate spirit is necessary in all areas of life, but the woman, popularly known as the “weaker sex”, has a long and arduous battle. I combine images with biting texts precisely to stop the condescension we breathe in the streets, in museums or in the media. With her gaze Miss Beige turns the voyeur into a being looked at.
Q- Aside from ridiculing the “I was there” pandemic of the selfie phenomenon and in general the cult of self, Miss Beige also has a weakness for provoking or annoying police, security men… lurking around the Palace of Justice… sneaking some other gag about corruption … What is she up to? Will she end up surprising us with some terrorist act in pursuit of justice?
Miss Beige likes to tease and just that but there are certain places where provocation is more necessary than water. We must laugh at them, it is the only way to litigate the corruption and the stupidity that surrounds us. And yes, she has a little of Robin Hood. Already in the school the teachers called me “the lawyer of the poor”.
Q- Actress and journalist, both professions are allied when you take the street, and from the magazine “El pulpo” reviews the wanderings of Miss Beige. You transform the city in stage, so the corresponde between theater and life. I think that your performances break ground also because they are external to the performance tradition, that is, to the world of the visual arts. Because each discipline imposes its paradigms and restricts creation.
Perhaps it is the strange combination of careers that has given rise to Miss Beige and its freshness at a time when the streets have passed into the background due to the rise of virtual reality. Mixing fantasy and reality is something that makes us more vulnerable and that, in short, is the goal of any artistic format.
Interviewed by Anna Adell
The photobook Miss Beige taking the streets (2017) can be purchased at Central Reina Sofía, at the Library-Gallery Ciudadano Grant of Swinton & Grant Gallery in Madrid, and if you want it personalized you can also ask her for it in her facebook profile.