Document meets María Forqué, the DJ and producer embracing nudity to be closer to God.
“I’ve completely broken that barrier of being worried about nudity,” María Forqué tells me between sips from her water bottle. “I could like be naked, like right now, and I wouldn’t care.”
We are sitting across from each other at Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, but the last time I saw her she was DJing at a nightclub under her stage name Virgen María. Static and otherworldly, when Forqué performs she wears little more than her long jet-black hair strategically placed over her torso, a modern-day Lady Godiva announcing to the crowd she wants to “bless their sex” between hardcore tracks.
Part performance, part performance art Forqué’s sound and aesthetic are as intense as they are ethereal. Her new EP G.O.D opens with the artist calmly declaring, “I have the right for miracles, my holiness is my salvation” over a slow build up akin to how a horror film soundtrack might allude to impending menace.
It’s hard to define Forqué’s sound, but the one uniting factor among her tracks is a sense of adrenaline. She describes Perth Daijing (one of the producers on her new EP) as her “brother in music” and says one of her main influences is the music she used to go out dancing to as a teenager growing up in Madrid. “I went to these really big churches of the music,” she tells me. “They were like macro clubs. I either listened to hardcore, or I went to dance [to] sexy reggaetón. So my music is like a fusion of those two experiences.”
But sound is just one part of the Virgen María package. She describes her 14-year-old self as explosive. “By that I mean I had a very developed body,” she explains. “I suffered a lot of bullying because I went to a very [conservative] school, so they made me wear baggy clothes to hide my body.” Now, Forqué does anything but hide her body. “It’s what drew me to performance of naked art,” she adds. “Because I had the necessity of showing my body and to tell the world that, although this kind of body that I have is very sexualized, it’s okay, it’s fine. It’s natural, and it’s beautiful. It’s nothing sinful.”
Her dedication to nakedness is a major part of her aesthetic. While regularly posting Instagram selfies that skirt around the platform’s heavy censorship has earned her a following of over 54,000, it’s also led to her account being shut down, only reinstated after her fans created the hashtag #FreeMariaForque1 and an online petition. “I’ve always had a lot of defenders as well as detractors,” Forqué explains. “It’s something that has always happened to me in my life. Either you love me or you hate me. There’s no in-between.”
Forqué’s work is about more than embracing her body. Her Instagram feed isn’t just a homage to her bare flesh, it’s a series of selfies injected with sex. Posing on stripper poles with string bikinis, sex is integral to her work. “That’s why I’ve always been very secure with my message of naked sex and God together, because we are born naked. So that’s closer to God, and we have sex to create life, which is also the more near to God experience. That’s why I joined these three things so strongly.”
Forqué explains she never wants to appear sexually aggressive, but it’s all too easy for her confidence to come across in that way. A young woman who’s proud of her body but prefers to talk about her sexuality as a spiritual or religious experience means she’s perceived in two ways; artist who is playing on the link between divinity, life, and procreation, or social media star who understands that sex sells.
This polarization is evident in the Spanish media. Daughter to one of Spain’s most prestigious families, her decision to embrace her body through performance art has made many headlines back home. Before embarking on a music career, her debut performances involved pouring two liters of fake blood onto her naked body. “The main Spanish newspaper said I was a Satanist,” she laughs. “They just see me as the naked crazy daughter of my mother.”
The Forqué Awards (named for her grandfather, the legendary Spanish director José María Forqué) is one of the country’s biggest nights in the cultural calendar. Her mother, Verónica Forqué, is a TV and film actress and her father, Manuel Iborra, is a director, so when Forqué began forging her career as a performance artist her family were supportive but concerned about her decision to bare all: “They were like, ‘Oh, my daughter’s naked. Is this going to work? Or is she only naked and everyone will see her naked?’”
Her live shows are far from erotic. Despite drawing on her early experiences dancing in clubs to Latin beats, Forqué barely moves during one of her sets preferring to main static—almost like a doll or robot. “I think this stillness helps me to transmit this message of nakedness in a more naive way,” continues. “It makes people think of me as almost similar as a sculpture.”
But it’s not just her lack of movement that makes her appear inhuman; coloured contacts, and futuristic body paint add to her extra-terrestrial appeal: “I think my love of the future and anime and hentai and everything robotic also makes me look like this.”
Forqué adds that this exaggerated feminine look can make her feel like a drag artist at times, and despite being heterosexual, she’s always saying she feels like a gay man inside a woman’s body. “I connect with queer people, with weird people, with freaky people,” she explains. She says she’s always loved music, and wanted to carve a career for herself in the industry, but was too scared: “I had so much respect [for the industry] that I think, unconsciously, I thought I couldn’t make it. So I kind of blinded myself to the music.”
Now that her music career is taking off—she’s about to play a string of shows in South and North America and will reveal a new set at this year’s Sonar festival—her family doesn’t worry about the nudity element of her work. Forqué is busy turning her music into a larger movement. “I wanted messages about higher consciousness,” she says at the end of our interview. “I want to be a movement. I want to be a group of people. I don’t want to be me by myself.”