Mia Ruyter: Wedding
I found a wedding dress in a thrift store. I was struck by the strangeness of a wedding dress for sale at the Salvation Army. I wondered who wore it, what happened to the relationship. I went home, but couldn’t get it out of my mind. I had to go back and buy it.
I hung it up in my studio and looked at it. I took pictures of it. The dress had a very powerful aura. It was beautifully constructed, with layers of lace and pearls and sequins and ruffles and bows. It was a princess dress. I took pictures of the details, and the insides, trying to understand the power of this fetishistic object. I put it on and took pictures of the dress—looking at myself in the dress.
And then I decided to deconstruct it literally. I invited a bunch of friends over and served them champagne and seam rippers. We sat in a circle around the dress, removing the lace from the hem, ripping out the seams at the waistband, detaching the skirt and the sleeves from the bodice. It was remarkably well made. The seams were sewn three and four times. And it was remarkable how scary it was to rip out the seams—as if we were breaking a law.
Weddings are rituals of social recognition of a committed relationship. Weddings are legal contracts between two people and the government. Weddings mark the assimilation of a relationship into socially formalized system. Weddings are erotically charged. A wedding is a business arrangement between two people or two families. Weddings are spectacles and massive consumer events. Weddings have unforeseen consequences. Weddings require couples to pretend that they are sure of the future. Weddings are the messy mixing of emotions and legal contracts.
Luis Buñuel once said that "Sex without religion is like cooking an egg without salt. Sin gives more chances to desire." Does the blessing of the church or the approval of the law shape the romantic relationship? Does it change it? Make it stronger? Does it steal from the passion or does it give more chance to desire?
— Mia Ruyter, June 7, 2005
(click on each image for full size version)