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If U Seek Amy (2022), Raphaëll Maïwen

Raphaëll Maïwen

Captive of a bizarre kingdom, the Pop Princess embarks on a fantastic adventure to find her true identity. Simultaneously, in a parallel universe, Raphaëll leads a quest of her own as a video game developer, and their two worlds intertwine…

If U Seek Amy is a RPG (role-playing game) created by Raphaëll Maïwen that explores the duality between a pop star’s public persona and her private life, the overlap between the two and the measures taken to keep them separate. The work also looks at the fascination of a young queer person – namely the creator of the game – with Britney Spears, and questions where sincerity ends and performance begins in her admiration for her. The two protagonists are confronted with a search for identity each in their own way, through what they voluntarily or not project to others, what is said about them, what they internalize and what they reject.

Behind the appearance of a fan art work, an intrinsically subjective narrative unfolds, a strategy that fits perfectly with the participative aesthetics of RPG games, where the spectator takes the place of the protagonist. By immersing the player in this manner within an intimate context, Maïwen synesthetically positions the body in space-time, and facilitates an embodied action. The viewer acts as an actor, and their relationship goes beyond contemplation, to the point of nourishing a latent empathy towards the pop star as well as towards Maïwen’s gaze.

If U Seek Amy is a true homage to Britney Spears, exploring with a touch of humor the different ways in which she has integrated the popular imagination and the subcultures that stem from it, whether through memes, remixes of her songs, captions, video or her most famous quotes. Thus, the work reveals how the public reappropriates an icon, as well as the particular and unidirectional bond that unites a celebrity with their fans. Finally, while the work is part of a series of games conceptualized by the artist over the past few years with the pop star as a catalyst, it opens here a singular window on her reality as an independent game developer as well as on her artistic process.

Raphaëll Maïwen has been creating games since she was a child with all the software she can find, from PowerPoint to Unity, RPG Maker, Unreal and many others. Raphaëll democratizes game creation as much as possible, convinced that everyone can make games if they are given the right tools. She does this by organizing workshops, conferences and game jams of all kinds. Her favorite themes are vulnerability, queerness and Britney Spears. She is interested in nonsense games, rhythm and golf games, and alt-controllers. Outside of video games, her interests include drag, stand-up comedy, body modification, relationships, and again, Britney Spears.

In 2022-2023, the work If U Seek Amy is presented IRL as part of the group exhibition JEU_ART_GAME INTANGIBLE ENTRE-DEUX, curated by Nathalie Bachand & Lynn Hughes, whose proposals lie at the junction of gaming and art.

If U Seek Amy is a work by Raphaëll Maïwen, co-produced by Galerie Galerie with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.