Sasha Baskin and her new form of mythology: reality television shows.
Updated: Mar 30
Using screenshots from episodes of “The Bachelor,” my work addresses pop culture as a modern form of mythology.
The Drama (Study for Jenny's Departure) , 2018, digital and hand-woven cotton and silk, rosette overshot patterning, natural dye, screenshot from "The Bachelor" (season 22), 40 x 30 x 1 in.
Within reality television, I find a new kind of repetitive storytelling and the creation of new gods and goddesses. In the Greek Myth of the judgment of Paris, three goddesses wait for a mortal to offer them an apple proclaiming the chosen one the most beautiful. On “The Bachelor,” women wait for roses delivered at overly dramatized “Rose Ceremonies” when a man makes the choice of whom he wants to keep dating and sends the rest home.
The rose is a new manifestation of the apple: another icon for a new religious system, another symbol of validation. These shows create a language of icons, symbols, gods, and goddesses. They pull their viewers in through repetition and the desire to support familiar heroes and heroines. When one contestant is rejected, she is chosen as the next season’s lead. We get to watch her trials and tribulations as she, once exiled, finds love. She will call the process a “journey” reinforcing her personal Odyssey-like story.
Image of the reality television show "The Bachelor" during the Rose Ceremony.
My work examines and critiques this repetitive structure, this drive to create repetitive mythologies, to recreate the Iliad and the Odyssey in high heels, hair extensions, and contoured makeup on reality television stages. We tell these same stories over and over again in an attempt to explain human interaction, beauty, love, drama, and competition. I weave screenshots like chapters in a hero’s journey and overlay digital patterns and lace grids to create veiled goddesses out of reality television starlets. I render these screenshots in hand and jacquard woven threads and hand-worked filet lace. Through textile processes I incorporate the repetitive structure of myth into the very fabric of their representation.
Embrace (Hannah and Luke), 2019, digital and hand-woven cotton and silk, screenshot from "The Bachelorette", 13 x 27 in.
I veil these reality television heroines in lace and woven roses. I explore this iconic symbol of the rose as a repetitive image of purity, sexuality, traditional values, and femininity. I am fascinated by the pattern and the opportunity for control offered by the symbol. The question “will you accept this rose?” is asked at every juncture in “The Bachelor.” The opportunity exists to change the pattern and say no, but that choice is never taken. The story (and pattern) repeats itself. Within this repetition, I offer the women I weave the power to wear and control their own roses: to take agency over the symbol of choice and validation which defines their mythological journey.
The Rose Ceremony, 2018, jacquard and hand-woven cotton, silk, and rayon, rosette overshot patterning, natural dye, screenshot from "The Bachelor" (season 22), 27 x 19 in.
Written by Sasha Baskin.