Toxic Women, a multimedia series of self-portraits rendered as paintings, photographs, and film that examines the intersection of identity, female sexuality, and consumer culture in the context of the “ideal woman,” was exhibited at Allegra LaViola Gallery, New York, NY in December 2011.


Toxic Women (2011) consisted of a series of self-portraits rendered in painting, photography, and film. It depicted extensions of the artist – her "alter egos" – through which it examined the intersection of identity, female sexuality, and consumer culture in the context of the "ideal woman." The Vague Covers series showed the "toxic woman" as the antithesis of the ideal woman, but wholly inseparable from her; her toxicity is born of her pursuit of the ideal. Featured in this series of oil paintings were the artist’s six alter egos: the addict, temptress, perfectionist, fame whore, self-saboteur, and she who has no boundaries. The Demon Paintings series demonized the muse through explorations of religious iconography, sexuality, fashion, and fetishism. Here, six large-scale oil paintings portrayed the toxic woman as the historical fiction of female identity. She is one part Madonna, one part whore… a modern, masturbatory St. Theresa clad in Viktor and Rolf. The artist delved deeply into her alter ego Rosemary Myst, featuring her in both a series of photographs, Self Portraits as Rosemary Myst, and in one of the Faux Pas beauty commercials. Rosemary, described as both “devoted to the man” and “a mystical nun of porn,” is portrayed with stigmata, cigarettes, a crucifix, balloon dogs, tears, and a bunny rabbit. The Faux Pas videos were designed to resemble and critique traditional beauty-product commercials. Rosemary Myst and another alter ego, Loretta Minx, were each featured in a video; each posing, rubbing, and gyrating to sell their respective products. Touché features a Yves Saint Laurent rouge blush made from Rosemary's own blood. She smears the stigmata on her palms across her cheeks, applying the rouge and portraying a fanatical devotion to beauty and idealism. Eau de Pussoir, inspired by Tom Ford’s Black Orchid and marketed by fame-seeking maverick Loretta Minx, is the fragrance of pussy. Loretta has long blonde hair, red nails, and a face completely concealed by a black cowgirl hat. She could be any number of "beautiful" Hollywood celebrities (she is interchangeable; she is disposable) which symbolizes the sexism inherent in the industry. In the series 100 Vague Magazines, the covers of Vogue Magazine were modified with acrylic and marker to illustrate the implications of living up to the standard of the "ideal woman." Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles D’Avignon were painted on top of America’s top models, the Pope replaced Gwyneth Paltrow, and the notorious "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss covered Gisele Bündchen. Along with the painted magazine covers were The Confessional Bags: a set of six lacquered Louis Vuitton handbags. Each of the handbags was sealed, unable to be opened without being destroyed, and contained a personal and sacrificial object from the artist, including jewelry from an ex-lover, love notes, and a sex tape from a past relationship. Each series in Toxic Women probed the space in which feelings for women turn from infatuation to disgust, from attraction to revulsion – the space in which the "ideal woman" turns toxic. Allegra LaViola Gallery, New York City