Pink Line Project founder Philippa P.B. Hughes has a distinct style to match her status as a tastemaker within the D.C. art scene. But this week marks a milestone in the life of this “Chief Contrarian” – the first time her look has become iconic enough to warrant satirical imitation. That’s artist and City Paper writer Jeffry Cudlin below, vamping it up in D.C. Magazine as the lawyer/lobbyist-turned-D.C. Commissioner on the Arts & Humanities on her signature pink scooter.
To someone not in the know, it looks like Cudlin is biting the hand that feeds him, considering that he was Hughes’ first pick in her article for the magazine highlighting the ten best young artists. But she’s not offended. Hughes was actually present for the shoot and gave Cudlin her blessing, though she considered feigning outrage for this interview nonetheless. “I was strategizing a way to help him continue the joke,” she said. “I was going to try for faux-outrage, but maybe start with slow-simmering resentment.”
The photo is part of his strategy for building buzz for his upcoming show at Flashpoint, “By Request,” in which he surveys curators, critics and collectors in the D.C. art community to determine what the “ideal” work of art would be. Hughes is only the first of a series of targets – she knows who will be next, but wouldn’t say. “He’s including a lot of people in on the joke,” she said. “I trust him. He’s a smart, great artist. I trust that he’s going to pull this off in a way that pokes fun intelligently.”
But that doesn’t mean Hughes can’t be critical of Cudlin’s representation of her. Though she was flattered by the tongue-in-cheek representation, likening it to the artist Douglas Gordon’s “Self-portrait as Kurt Cobain, as Andy Warhol, as Myra Hindley, as Marilyn Monroe,” she has a few pointers for any future doppelgängers: “[Cudlin] had a haughty demeanor, but rarely will you see a picture of me without a smile. He was trying to be funny and vamp it up, but it wasn’t accurate.” His outfit – a knit dress and colorful tights – fell under her scrutiny, as well. “Maybe that is a typical outfit for me… but I try to pick things that don’t go together, and I thought he was a little matchy-matchy,” she said. But the pink tights? Spot-on.
Photo by Joshua Cogan.