Sunday, May 11, 2014

Why I changed my name to Marvin Gaye Chetwynd


Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

Born     Alalia Chetwynd
Nationality     British
Other names   

Alalia Chetwynd (Christened as)
Lali Chetwynd (raised as)
Spartacus Chetwynd (unknown to September 2013)
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (September 2013 to present)

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd[1] (born Alalia Chetwynd, 1973, best known as Spartacus Chetwynd) is a British artist known for reworkings of iconic moments from cultural history in deliberately amateurish and improvisatory performances. In 2012, she was nominated for the Turner Prize.


    1 Life
    2 Work
    3 References
    4 External links


Chetwynd, who was christened Alalia Chetwynd, is the daughter of Luciana Arrighi, an Oscar-winning production designer, and Rupert Chetwynd, a former soldier, author and aid worker in Afghanistan, who is a cousin of Viscount Chetwynd. Chetwynd studied anthropology at University College London (UCL) before training as a painter at UCL's Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal College of Art. She adopted the name Spartacus Chetwynd in 2006.

Participating in New Contemporaries in 2004,[7] she was shortlisted for the Beck's Futures prize in 2005. Her contribution to the 2006 Tate Triennial was The Fall of Man, a puppet-play based on The Book of Genesis, Paradise Lost and The German Ideology.[6] In 2009 her work Hermitos Children was included in "Altermodern", the fourth Tate Triennial. The filmed performance was summarised by Adrian Searle as, "The young woman who rode to her own death on the dildo see-saw at the Sugar-Tits Doom Club," and described by Richard Dorment as, "Silly beyond words and teetered at times on the edge of porn – but once you start looking at it I defy you to tear yourself away." Although characterised as a reworking of iconic moments from cultural history, Chetwynd's work has risked being seen as plagiarism and, in the case of a cat bus prominently featured in her performance work at the 2010 Frieze Art Fair,[ copyright infringement. The cat bus character appears in Hayao Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro" and is copyright 1988 by Nibariki-G.

Her works are held in the Saatchi Gallery, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zürich, the Tate, and the British Council collection.

Why I changed my name to Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

The performance artist formerly known as Spartacus has changed her name again. Marvin Gaye Chetwynd explains what's going on …
Marvin Gaye
What's in a name? … Marvin Gaye Chetwynd. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
I always felt very comfortable and happy with Alalia, the name I was given by my parents. It is very beautiful – and I had no problem with Lali, the nickname that came from it.
In 2006, however, I changed it to Spartacus. I was working as a kind of actors' manager with my performance group in London, and I needed a name that was more robust, to use as a nom de guerre or a kind of shield. It occurred to me that the idea of solidarity evoked by the name Spartacus really worked with the theatre group I ran.
Spartacus led a slave uprising against the Roman republic, drawing together people of different nationalities and cultures. He was an innovator and good at thinking on his feet. When his army was cornered on a cliff edge, they strung together some vines and climbed down. I just really related to the way he was someone who made things happen and held a group together. There's also that famous scene in the Kubrick film where they all say "I'm Spartacus" to protect him.
Artists should live experimentally, I think, so this was just a simple and cheap idea I tried, to see what would happen. I didn't go through the legal process, as if to get the authorities on my side, so all my documents still say Alalia and my married surname, which is Cichosz. (It means "hush-hush" in Polish and I embraced it happily. I'm in love with my husband and proud of it.) Chetwynd, on the other hand, has associations with landed property. I kept it because it's cheeky. I like the juxtaposition with Spartacus.
I was with a young gallery at the time. When I told them I wanted to change my name to Spartacus, they said: "No, you can't do that." I said: "I want to, I'm going to, I'm doing it now. You have to change it." So they changed it on their website, and I explained it to everyone I met from then on. I also changed my email address. I felt happy and confident. I didn't care if people used their own inventiveness and initiative to give me a nickname. So there's been Sparky, there's been Spanky. It could be anything.
Even so, Spartacus caused incredible irritation. People would want to call me my other name, and I'd say: "No no, you have to call me Spartacus." Then they'd purse their lips in frustration. My poor parents hated it to begin with, and my dad had trouble with it being a man's name. He was really upset. But the more they've watched what I've done, the more proud they have become. They understand that Spartacus is quite a good name for me.
It was almost like having a tool, a piece of litmus paper for finding out what kind of issues people have with me, what kind of agenda. If I met someone in a work situation, someone who doesn't like what I do but has to work with me, they'd give me an incredibly hard time over the name. They'd stumble over it. They'd find problems and have a big argument with me about why I want to be called that. Using the name was also a joke, of course, but it would never occur to them that it was funny or enjoyable. It's like they were telling me they don't like what I do.
At one point, people started saying it was a performance – that by making them call me Spartacus, I was making them enter into a performance. So they felt they were being pushed around. When I was becoming better known, after the 2012 Turner prize nomination, two people asked me if it was a PR trick. But it wasn't. It really wasn't. It was interesting how intense the thing became.
For the last six months or so, I've been thinking about changing my name again – this time to Marvin Gaye Chetwynd. Again, it's a good experiment. It could work like a shield, or a spell. In the end I just thought: "I'm going to try it, because nothing matters very much."

For a long time, I've been interested in the way Marvin Gaye died. He was very much a free spirit all his life, but his father, Marvin Sr, was a preacher, cross-dresser and disciplinarian who used to beat him with a belt. At a time when Marvin Jr was very paranoid, he went back to live with his parents. He bought a gun to protect himself and gave it to his father – really putting his head into the lion's mouth. Later, they had an argument, and his father shot him dead.

I've spoken to Sadie Coles, whose gallery represents me, and she was very positive about the idea, changing the details immediately on their website. She said her hips were swinging. If someone calls up the gallery now and asks for Spartacus, they will say: "Do you mean Marvin Gaye?"

I feel the Spartacus name worked really well. But now it feels even better going for a second change, but I'm not planning on a third. I enjoy being Marvin Gaye. It feels like a really good fit, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd. My parents are going to have to get used to it again, although they don't know about it yet. If someone called me Lali now I'd say: "Get with the groove and call me Marvin, man! And cheer up!"

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