C.S.S.C. Coach Stage Stage Coach VR experiment Mary and Eve
Virtual Reality Artwork
© Paul McCarthy and Khora Contemporary
Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth, Xavier Hufkens and Khora Contemporary
The Virtual Reality experiment is based on the long-term project of the artist, ‘Stagecoach’, or ‘SC’ for short. Encompassing a wide range of different media, the project includes a new film, inspired by John Ford’s Western of the same title from 1939 starring John Wayne. Taking the form of a spin-off, a phenomenon associated with the entertainment industry, the VR work builds on a scene from the film of the artist, involving the two characters, Mary (played by Rachel Alig) and Eve (played by Jennifer Daley).
Caught in the claustrophobia of constant surveillance by the two women and their doubles the viewer becomes part of the vicious hallucination of a psychological mind game. All social conventions break down as the plot unfolds and escalates into a psychosexual trip of rape and humiliation.
Through the VR medium McCarthy displays a perversion of the real – a reality, which already exists as extreme visuality of violence is imbedded in mass culture and contemporary imagery. The repulsion and discomfort is only intensified by the feeling of being imaginatively and emotionally immersed in the virtual world of the work, the dreamy atmosphere bringing about an uncanny effect. A distance is maintained in the interaction between the viewer and the characters, our attention simultaneously being captured in our own terrible fascination of the violence and our inability to act.
Like the Wild West this is a world without constraint encouraged by persistent self-exaltation of American civilization and masculine identity. Exposing the obscurity at the heart of mainstream culture, McCarthy probes systems of gender, politics and popular culture that more or less unnoticeably rule our world