Joan Fontcuberta

Beautiful Agony - Installation - 2021

présentée dans le cadre de l'exposition Panorama 23


Working with a dataset of portraits of people in the middle of orgasm (taken from the webpage on which thousands of users published video-selfies, guaranteeing that their orgasm is not false but authentic), we used GAN (Generative Adversatorial Networks) technology to initiate a process of deep learning aiming to generate false portraits of (non-existent) persons at the moment of climax. This process makes it possible to identify the expressive models characteristic of orgasm and to transfer their expressive typology to any face.
By way of a case study, we applied them in a deliberately exaggerated way to a certain category of powerful figures from the political sphere, those involved in high-profile sex scandals, episodes of harassment or flagrant adultery. This time, then, it is the turn Donald Trump, Silvio Berlusconi, Juan Carlos de Bourbon and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the protagonists in well-known case of abuses of power and sexist violence favoured by patriarchal society.
Deepfake now offers a degree of refinement that hides the manipulation to the point of invisibility. In this case, we preferred to opt for grotesque exaggeration, that is to say, for a fiction that does not claim to deceive but reveals, precisely, the mechanisms of deceit.
The installation is completed by 3D snapshots that correspond to the four figures, busts with petrified faces, as if the eye of Medusa – the eye of history that shows up shame – had caught them in the epiphany of ecstasy.

Joan Fontcuberta


Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing — INA — Beatiful Agony, Facettes de la petite mort