This week Texas State University Studio Arts Senior Monika Rostvold displayed her second live artistic demonstration.
Last April, Rostvold sat nearly naked on the steps of Alkek Library for a 45 minute demonstration. The point Rostvold wished to make? To raise awareness about standards in society regarding sexual assault, where Rostvold said she choose to sit on the Alkek steps as a method to take control of her body and push individuals to view her body as beauty and not as a sexual object.
However, for her next performance piece Rostvold decided to attack another issue: dating culture.
10 months following her demonstration on the Alkek steps, Rostvold covered herself in Chick-fil-A and ketchup, then laid partially naked on a table in the LBJ amphitheater. Students immediately flocked the scene, even taking turns eating french fries off of Rostvold’s body.
“I wanted to talk about how dating and our hookup culture is like fast food being quick. It’s fast and we ask ourselves is it a good thing or a bad thing, it just makes it seem like it’s not real anymore. Like in fast food it can be a little artificial and if it is healthy for us,” said Rostvold.
Her inspiration mainly comes from her love of art. Being a studio arts major, she take a thesis class where she has to come up with projects that she is free to do. But this specific piece, was not for a class; it was to bring awareness to the pressing issue of dating in modern society.
“In thesis class, we have very open assignments. They don’t really tell us to do this. They basically just want you to be productive. Everything that I do i just want people to have conversations and acknowledge the fact that this is happening.”
Many students were taken back when they saw Rostvold outside. But she expected that reaction and a better crowd.
“A lot of my stuff is controversial and I know that. I don’t intend it to be but it’s just what happens because the topics I talk about are kind of racy. I just leave it open for debate. But I did expect that I would have a little bit more because my last performance there was definitely space between me and the audience and this one was a little more interactive and they were able to get a little closer,” said Rostvold.
Rostvold’s last performance on the Alkek steps received national media attention and was shared all over the internet. Many viewers would think there is a connection between this piece and her last but Rostvold believes otherwise.
“I think all my work has a connecting string from one to another but I consider my performance today and my past one completely different pieces,” said Rostvold.
But each piece has changed Rostvold’s life. But it is not the publicity attention or the way she does her pieces; it’s personal.
“It is changing my life because I am going out and expressing how I feel and that satisfies me alot. But it’s more about the message being spread. Whenever I’m wearing less clothes, it makes me feel a lot more vulnerable. And also I use my body as my art. So I’m just using it in the most natural way.”
When asked if Rostvold would travel to other schools, she said no because she does not think other schools want her on their campuses, but believes performance art is an up and coming form that is being utilized more.
Overall, Rostvold thinks the piece went well because she achieved her goal: to start a conversation on current dating culture. She also said she is proud that her school is receiving positive attention in return.
Rostvold said she does not plan on doing another performance piece because she will be focusing on her thesis exhibit that will take place in the Texas State Art Gallery in April.