The MOUCHETTE fanshop
Is celebrity a message or is it a medium? For more than 15 years Mouchette has managed to maintain her celebrity status. Much longer than the 15 minutes of fame predicted by Andy Warhol, Mouchette does not only owe her fame to her fans, but she shares it with them in so far as they share in her identity.
Indeed, beyond her status as a celebrity figure in the art world, Mouchette has been characterized as an ideal imaginary friend who does and says things that many of us dream about but do not dare to do or say out loud. At times seductive, at other times cruel, or very sweet, Mouchette exposes the fantasies born from her dark imagination. She constantly triggers web surfers to participate and answers e-mails that are sent to her. This combination makes her very real: Mouchette ‘exists’ for those who participate in the network. At the same time she is an extension of our identity that we experience as being both dependent and independent of us. In this way, Mouchette explores questions about youth, identity construction and imagination, an exploration that started long before the current Web 2.0, and yet, these issues continue to be all the more relevant today.
No celebrity is complete without merchandising. Like the cherry on the cake, an online fanshop has now been created by one of her very special fans who is a designer. This fanshop is hosted inside Mouchette’s website. Once again, the participation of fans becomes a meaningful part of her identity. What is a first with this development is that Mouchette is leaving the virtual realm to enter the physical world. These images of flies that you have seen haunting her website are now embroidered into a little bracelet that you can actually wear around your wrist. The fan shop is full of little items translating the website into things, making the “vintage” webpages into fancy objects, transforming the obsolescent internet into the perennial reality of a souvenir shop.
Buy these souvenirs online, pay them with Paypal, receive them at home by post, and through you Mouchette will live on inside your physical reality.
Mouchette was created by the Dutch/French artist Martine Neddam in 1996. Mouchette existed on the Internet for many years masquerading as a thirteen-year-old girl living in Amsterdam. After more than ten years Martine Neddam revealed the true identity and the author behind Mouchette. In the meantime, the website, which is still active today, has become a place of pilgrimage for web lovers and her audience.