Dreaming of a world in which capitalism no longer profits from social struggles, Maja Malou Lyse is turning binary conceptions of gender and sex upside down. Questioning who and what holds power to inscribe meaning on the bodies of others, the performance artist and aspiring gynaecologist uses selfies as a medium for self-expression and a tool to resist male-dominated media culture. She urges women to take ownership of their own bodies instead of subjecting them to the male gaze. Well aware that everything she does becomes part of an act of female empowerment—promoting body positivity—she gladly struck a pose for our Body Politics issue.
Would you say your work is related to body politics?
Yes, indeed! My work centers on my body in particular, but also includes that of others. Investigating bodies in a practical and cultural manner, which includes an exploration of all the complexities a body beholds.
Do you see your work as a form of protest?
I would say certain aspects of my work act as a form of protest, as it’s an act of resistance and an act of survival.
What impact do you think social media have on shaping our ideals of beauty?
Well, from a utopian perspective: social media allow us to define our own narratives and our own content, as opposed to someone directing it upon us. It enables us to create an image of ourselves. I used to see social media as a utopian place, but of course, there’s a dark side to it that’s chained to a patriarchal sensibility. Social media clearly have censorship problems, include corporate bias, profits from other people’s private information and personal work. However, I do believe the medium offers space for critique on these matters.
When it comes to body positivity, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Every body is a good body.
What does femininity/masculinity mean to you?
First and foremost, it implies socially constructed and assigned gender binaries, upheld by capitalism for profit. However, the fun part is that these terms can also be considered as social codes, aesthetics and dynamics that can be played around with across people and genders.
As a young artist, what do you daydream about?
My hot and heavy daydream is that I no longer have to worry about capitalist institutions profiting off our social struggles.