For this episode of Let Me Ascertain You, we bring you back to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the Civilians are artists-in-residence. As part of our research, we were wandering through some of the museum’s galleries such as the Petrie Court, taking in the nude sculptures that fill that space, like Jacques Sarazin’s gentle Leda and the Swan and Antonio Canova’s indifferent Paris. Surrounded by such a rich history of the representation of the human form, we had many questions about how what we find beautiful about the human body has changed through time.
“It was my moment. I had never in my whole life been the center of attention. Not when I was a girl. Not in my own family. Not even when I was sentenced to prison. ” – Ana Yolanda
For this episode, we’ve gathered some of our other conversations from the past couple of years that also examine these intertwining themes of beauty, love, and the body. First, Jeanine Serralles brings us to the El Buen Pastor Women’s Prison with Ana Yolanda, a contestant in the prison’s annual beauty pageant. Nedra McClyde performs Pookie, from our investigation into Weddings in America, and Damian Bladet gives us an interview with the founder of NYC’s Hot Nude Yoga. Finally, Alyse Louis closes with a performance of the original song “Pretty Monster,” written by Robin Eaton and Jill Sobule for our new musical “Times Square.”
The Civilians will be closing out our year as artists-in-residence at the Met with one more show in mid-May. Taking its title — “The Way They Live” — from Thomas Anschutz’s painting, the original play with music will explore concepts of America and how American art reflects those ideas. For more information about the Met residency, please visit the Civilians’ page on the Met website.
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