Bess Barkholt is a musician and artist, working under the artist name BESS and performing and researching under the name/ alter ego Virginia Supreme. Currently based in Copenhagen, previously working, studying and living in London. Finished her BA as a singer and composer/ producer at The Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen in 2017. Following her masters at The Royal College of Art, Contemporary Art Practice, specialising in both Performance, on her first year, and now finishing her second year, following the Moving Image Pathway.
I work with a mixture of music/ sound/ composition, performance, text and film. During my studies at The Royal College of Art, I have been investigating a creation of the name/ alter ego 'Virginia Supreme', through performance, sound, text/ contemplation, sculpture and film. Virginia Supreme is a platform of thinking and investigating notions around gender, societal norms and culture, democratic issues and questions, sexuality, performance as well as epistemological contemplations on what can be called knowledge at large, and on which premises knowledge is produced.
The different layers of surface, from extra extra layers all the way down to my skin. Graciousness. Virginia Supreme - The Untouched. Both man and woman. There is an open play in the room, over time. I am playing with the light. Positions. Presenting myself. Am I just playing right there - at the spot - or what am I up to? The mask is directed by the angle and the light / the eyes all the time. In this case the light represents a spectre of habitats - its not only the studio. It’s a bed room scenario. It’s me, taking care of myself, but I have an audience. I am ambivalent with that audience. I want them to look, I don’t want them to look. I want to invite them not to look. About objectification. Can I position myself, how I want to be seen - even when I’m naked?
In my current work, 'Virginia Supreme - The Documentary (The Room Was Like My Face), I explore the documentary format, investigating a framing of myself as a person, artist/ musician (BESS) through the lens of Virginia Supreme, who's performing and playing with gender performances and identity-expressions. The film contains images surrounding the process of making the not-yet-released album, 'Virginia Supreme' : this film debuting parts of the finished musical work. The film shows vulnerability and curiosity, during a process of research on my own presence as a performer and artist, the questions around gender that comes into play in creating my own image as a professional artist. The main narrator, being me, taking control over my own image, by conducting and co-conducting with a friend, the gaze, watching me/ Virginia Supreme go through these personal processes, and performing herself, while the capitalist society's pressures echoes into, and structures the existence of the life the film unfolds, and is unfolding in.
Medium:Video, Performance, Music
In these self-conducted, images, I/ Virginia Supreme, explores the creation of presentation of myself, investigating self-display through make-up and layering of culturally female attributes and ornamentation, disrupting and shuffling these elements of aesthetics, in the search of where to draw the lines that constitute identity. Proximity to a perfect or precise image. Allowing to breath in space in between, with curiosity of the presence in the process and the actual physical production of the image itself, not fully controlling the outcome.
Size:2000 x 1333 px
excerpts from my dissertation-piece, written at the RCA
Size:1663 x 1331 px
Body/ form (VIRGINIA SUPREME) explores the presence of similar-to-body forms, existing in sculpture, 'performing' femininity, with attributes and ornamentation culturally and historically assigned to women. As thereby condensing a western mainstream culturally female expression into eight forms of papier mache.