Like a bulging Mothercare nappy bag saddled to the back of a weary parent, there’s a lot to unpack in Baby Face. The unsettling ideals of female fragility, dependency and innocence fostered by Western culture. Sippy cups and sexuality. The fashion industry’s Humbert Humbert-ish aesthetic predilections.
Katy Dye’s short but discomforting solo performance piece about the infantilisation of women and fetishisation of youth contains doe-eyed crooning, pre-verbal babble and masturbatory squirts of Johnson’s baby lotion.
The physical fact of Dye’s slight frame is integral here. Perched on a high chair, she introduces herself in shrill toddler tones as someone who’s often thought to be younger than her 26 years and, in between shrieks, takes this “compliment” to its inevitably gross extremes, touting “the fragile arms of a 10-year-old, the thighs of an eight-year-old, the labia of a five-year-old.”
The line between babyish writhing and finger-sucking sexual squirming is horribly blurred as Dye disrobes, dons suggestive Britney-esque school uniform and forces her way into the kind of chihuahua-proportioned pink hoodie formerly sold by American Apparel as an adult woman’s size medium.
By turns manic nymphet and farting newborn, Dye presents a powerfully thought-provoking indictment of capitalist culture’s pervy underpinnings.