Joan Fontcuberta / Pilar Rosado

Mainstream and populist political leaders, especially if they are male, frequently share a reputation for sexual profligacy: part of the wages of power, one might say. Mainstream leaders often try to keep their activities in this area quiet, while some populist leaders boast of them as a part of a macho image that aligns bodily and political potency. In the making of Beautiful Agony, we worked with a dataset of portraits of people in the middle of
orgasm (taken from the on which thousands of users published video-selfies, guaranteeing that their orgasm is not false but authentic. We then used GAN (Generative Adversarial Networks) technology to initiate a process of deep learning aiming to generate false portraits of (non
existent) persons at the moment of climax. This process makes it possible to identify the expressive models characteristic of orgasm and to transfer their expressive typology to any face. By way of a case study, we applied them in a deliberately caricatural way to a certain category of powerful figures from the political sphere, those involved in high-profile sex scandals, episodes of harassment or flagrant adultery. This time, then, it is the turn of Donald Trump, Silvio Berlusconi, Juan Carlos de Bourbon and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the protagonists in well-known cases of the abuse of power and sexist violence favoured by patriarchal society. Deepfake now offers a degree of refinement
that hides the manipulation to the point of invisibility. In this case, we preferred to opt for a grotesque exaggeration, that is to say, for a fiction that does not claim to deceive but reveals, precisely, the mechanisms of deceit. The installation is completed by 3D snapshots that correspond to the four figures, busts with petrified faces, as if the eye of Medusa—the eye of history that shows up shame—had caught them in the epiphany of ecstasy.