Leaning hard into body positivity, Ebecho Muslimova’s recurring, Rubenesque character Fatebe energetically bounces across the artist’s drawings and paintings, wearing nothing but her birthday suit as she defecates, urinates and inserts improbable objects (a piano, a ceiling fan, a camera tripod) into her vagina or rectum. That she maintains an unconquerable good cheer throughout makes her activities all the more absurd.
Depicted in a sweeping, cartoonish outline, Fatebe could be regarded as Muslimova’s alter ego, an everywoman who, empowered by transgression, confronts the abuses of living while female. Usually rendered in a flat palette of black and white, even in canvases that are otherwise crowded with color and realistic details, Fatebe loudly stands out while nonchalantly going about her business.
In one scene, she sprawls faceup on a table covered in orange organza inside a room wallpapered with an interlocking green pattern of fish and frogs à la M.C. Escher. Apparently these creatures have leapt, in a frenzy resembling a Biblical plague, from the decor to crawl all over Fatebe and jump down her throat. Another piece has her swallowing a blue lightning bolt that’s flashing through an open window, only to transform it into an azure stream of pee that runs down the seat of the velvet armchair she occupies.
The image of something going in one of Fatebe’s orifices and out another is a motif that Muslimova regularly uses to parody Freud’s oral and anal stages of childhood development; indeed, her protagonist is like an overgrown baby whose unalloyed pleasure in her unseemly acts repudiates the way society preys upon feminine self-esteem. Signaling a return of the repressed, Fatebe is a nasty woman who nevertheless persists.