Nina Arsenault is interviewed in Vice Magazine
The piece examines the impact of ideas such as fame and narcissism.

Transgendered playwright–performer, columnist and sex worker Nina Arsenault has transformed herself through numerous plastic surgeries in the pursuit of a feminine beauty ideal. Nina is the subject of a new publication from Intellect, TRANS(per)FORMING Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of Work, edited by the award winning dramaturg, Judith Rudakoff.

This extract from an interview with Nina Arsenault, featured in Vice magazine, examines the impact of ideas such as fame and narcissism. In Nina’s case, she has become an empathetic, positive artist. However, the same cannot be said for Luke Magnotta, an alleged murderer whom Nina previously had a relationship with. This interview attempts to examine the motivation behind these crimes by considering the parallels between Nina and her ex-lover but while also discussing the different paths they have taken.

Narcissism obviously played a part in Magnotta's demented psychology, and it's a subject that also applies to your work and life. Can you talk a bit about your thoughts on narcissism and how it needn't necessarily be a psychopathological impulse?

I think it’s important to differentiate between narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. To my understanding, having NDP means not being able to have empathy for others and to habitually manipulate others for your own gratification. People with this disorder lack an emotional understanding of the feelings of other people, that others have needs and an existence that continues after you leave the room. Then I think there is a narcissism that is not necessarily pathological, but probably more and more prevalent in society, which is the tendency to understand our own lives and the lives of others based strictly on the value of our visual image. Our lives become like the movies we are watching or the video games that we are playing, having a certain emotional detachment. Cinema, video games, and social networking have taught us that we can imagine ourselves as an avatar of our being, as a (glamorous) moving image. This can be good or bad, depending on how you use it.

You and Magnotta have both altered your appearance through plastic surgery. How do you think this relates to narcissism?

Multiple cosmetic procedures allow you to sculpt a new image of yourself into your very own body. As an artist who uses video images, online media, and plastic surgery, I wanted to explore this phenomenon.  I’ve used autobiographical material from my life, and I’ve never tried to deny my narcissism. Instead I’ve tried to investigate my tendency to understand myself as an image, wanting to be a pure image, and the impossible desire to have no thoughts or feelings, to be just an object in some sense.  I needed to get into this part of my psychological landscape, not to escape or deny it, and to search again for an authentic self.  Because I am an artist, I do this by expressing it publicly, by making work.

Follow the link to read the entire article:

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