Rhea Myers

Relational Art 3


Marie Antoinette was not French by birth.

Marie Antoinette did not say “let them eat cake”, and that is a mistranslation anyway.

Marie Antoinette was executed during the French Revolution. She was the last queen of France.


Marie Antoinette had a dairy farm where she acted out the fantasy of being a milkmaid. She did not milk the cows, servants took care of that. They also made sure that the farm was kept spotlessly clean and that the animals were sweetly perfumed.

The spectacle of social virtue even in uneducated agricultural labourers is the genre content of the Pastoral. This bucolic sentimentality is a lullaby of social order even in those with least to gain from society, in this case the social order of a monarch who would later lose her head at the hands of the unwashed. Marie Antoinette’s milkmaid fantasy was Pastoral as consumed experience rather than as viewed image or read text.

The experiences and relations of agricultural labourers stripped of necessity or untidiness and then aestheticised are - what exactly? Remove the power and satisfaction of the monarch from the equation and you have inept wannabe agricultural labourers who don’t actually wannabe agricultural labourers. This must have filled a few spare afternoons but it told those who took part in it very little about country life, and nothing that they didn’t want to hear.

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