Milo Moiré’s latest nude performance stomps on feminism with high heels and smothers it with silicon implants (NSFW).

Moire-in-gallery

Moire, making people critically aware of how far women have come in the last 500 years. Or not.

You might remember Milo Moire as the infamous egg-expressing, Expressionist painter. I was critical of that piece, but blamed the art world for rewarding that kind of work, pitied her, and gave her a measure of the benefit of the doubt. No more. In her latest stunt – a performance entitled, “How Much Abstraction Can Art Tolerate? (2015)” – she strode into a German museum showcasing classic and Modernist nude paintings, herself in the nude, carrying a baby, and wearing high heels.

Artist-lays-egg

Still from Moire’s “Plop Egg” performance. Click to go to my article about it.

I can’t find anything positive to say about her new work. The only thing I truly like about her anymore is her first name, Milo, which conjures a cartoon dog drinking an Australian, chocolate, malt, breakfast drink.

According to her website her intention was to question “the fundamental attitudes towards abstract and figurative art”. Apparently, because she would be there, in the flesh, she’s taking the nude out of the abstract and forcing us to confront it in real life. Further, because she’s nude, she implicitly becomes associated with the subject of the paintings, and thus the audience in attendance should experience some sort of cognitive dissonance: a nude woman is simultaneously a mere painted motif, and also a real person in the flesh, nurturing a baby. That message, to the degree it exists at all, is completely overshadowed by other ideas, comparisons, and responses.

moire-nude-2

I sort of doubt people will be thinking about “abstraction” at all when confronted with Milo doing her performance art in the museum.

Let’s be real for a moment. I’d instantly know it was a performance, and then I’d try to interpret its meaning and purpose. The first obvious thing’s I’d have noticed were:

  • She’s got a baby, but doesn’t look like a mom.
  • She’s shaved.
  • She’s wearing high heels.
  • She’s wearing a lot of makeup.
  • She’s fit.
  • She looks like she had a boob job.
  • Overall she looks like a Barbie Doll (unrealistic body image for many) with a baby.

A relatively new mom wouldn’t likely have such a firm stomach, nor would she parade around in high heels unless she worked for a particularly unsympathetic, misogynist boss, who demanded it. She would have pubic hair, because, well, she wouldn’t be 11 years old anymore, and she must have reached puberty in order to have a baby. And then there is the somewhat disjunctive juxtaposition of a baby pressed against breasts with implants. It just couldn’t be that the artist was saying that this is what a new millennium mom should look like! She resembles more an actress in a campy porno, “Hey baby, put down the baby, and let’s make another one…” I do realize that just because she’s carrying a baby doesn’t mean she’s a mom. But that almost makes it worse, because now I have to take the mom into consideration who let the naked lady in heels baby-sit her child.

Moire looks like a Hollywood fantasy holding an actual baby. In the featured photo on her webpage for the performance she could be mistaken for a mannequin.

mannequin

In this publicity photo, Moire looks like a mannequin.

There’s really nothing at all shocking or challenging about seeing a live nude if you’ve gone to art school. I’ve had to draw far more of them myself than I think was useful. So there’s no contradiction whatsoever that she’s nude, and lots of problems raised by the way she presents herself.

Of course she has every right to wear makeup, get cosmetic surgery, and wear high heels. But it’s just bizarre to combine that with holding a pudgy, pink, wrinkly baby who has as much hair on his body as she does. I guess Daddy is supposed to be happy when he comes home.

Should people be aroused, or not? Comments from men on news articles about her performance make it clear that they don’t, in general, have any problem with nude models walking around galleries. If only she’d ditch the baby and carry a platter of wine and cheese, all would be right with the patriarchal world.

The only thing I’m fairly sure of is that Milo is confident that she’s beautiful, and she likes to show it off. But I can’t see that she’s doing any favors for female artists or women in general. Au contraire, she’s unintentionally affirming a standard in which female artists have to be beautiful/sexy in order to have a career in art; and women in general, including mothers, have no excuse to not strut around in high heels and make-up, even as they are breastfeeding their newborns with silicon enhanced breasts.

When you have a naked woman in an art gallery with classical nudes, it invites comparison of tastes and preferences through the centuries, and she becomes emblematic, to a degree, of the contemporary woman. As an artist, she must be making a statment about the body of today’s woman, as compared to those in the past (unless she’s oblivious). It’s hard to escape the conclusion that in order to feel comfortable with her self image, today’s woman needs to adopt cosmetic intervention. While there’s nothing wrong with her making these choices for herself, when she presents herself to the public in the context of an art exhibition about nudes, her personal choices become more proscriptive and hence problematic. Additionally, she is working in the tradition of performance art, which has been strongly political and feminist.

It’s really hard to know the history of the genre and not analyze her performance in terms of body politics, standards of beauty for women, and issues of self-image/self-esteem (think eating disorders and artistic attempts to make more realistic dolls for girls). For me the piece would have been more effective if the nude woman in the gallery were of average weight and build. Otherwise it’s little more challenging than going to Hooters and getting a real, live, sexy, buxom girl serving your burger.

I no longer see Milo Moire as a sympathetic, budding artist who sold her body to the art world because that was her only viable route to success. Now she seems like a privileged opportunist working in league with the art institution and status quo. I’ve lost all faith and interest in her as an artist (though I ‘d be happy to be wrong about this, and glad to admit it).

~ Ends

The-Art-Critic-small

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24 thoughts on “Milo Moiré’s latest nude performance stomps on feminism with high heels and smothers it with silicon implants (NSFW).

  1. > I can’t find anything positive to say about her new work.

    This is because you lack the intelligence to grasp the multi layered meanings that her work embodies. I bet you just see squiggles and bad perspective when you look at a Picasso too, right?

    Not appreciating art = not ‘getting’ art = being uncultured = fail.

    > The first obvious thing’s I’d have noticed were: She’d got a baby, but doesn’t look like a mom. She’s shaved. She’s wearing high heels. She’s wearing a lot of makeup. She’s fit. She looks like she had a boob job. Overall she looks like a Barbie Doll with a baby.

    If I saw her in a gallery the first thing I’d notice (in addition to your list) is that she’s the only artist featured in the gallery who can’t actually paint, and that talking your clothes off and holding a baby takes a lot less time to master than painting realistic (let alone beautiful) studies of people in oils. Although to be fair holding a baby in high heels on a shiny concrete floor is quite difficult…… and therefore dangerous to the baby. If I saw her I would want to say “Security!…. Can you please remove this poor baby from this stupid woman please. I’m worried she will fall over in those heels and crack the poor mite’s head open on that floor”. No seriously. She’s probably light-headed already from eating nothing but celery and black coffee for three weeks in preparation for this ‘exhibition’.

    > If only she’d ditch the baby and carry a platter of wines and cheeses, all would be right with the patriarchal world.

    I don’t see why men enjoying the sight of naked women while being offered snacks has anything to do with patriarchy – in the sense of the systematic oppression of women by men (which is how ‘patriarchy’ is usually defined in modern culture). Plenty of women enjoy being waited on by men, and would love for them to be naked….. although in general women fantasise about men who are of UTILITY to women – whether that means they have practical skills, brute strength and loyalty, or (in modern post industrial/ technological society) just a ton of money and high social status. This is why when women objectify men they usually like the men to wear just enough clothes to clearly indicate their skills/ social status/ wealth (their utility to the woman)…. this is why typical outfits for sexually objectified men are fireman, the soldier, the naked guy with only a tool belt, the lumberjack, the suited city banker next to Ferrari etc. The typical sexually objectified man is not only handsome, fit and sexy, he’s also offering to provide the woman with resources and protection – often at the expense of his own health, wellbeing and even his life. Serving men wine and cheese is less arduous than logging, or going off to fight some stupid war. So if we’re going to have a competition, men’s sexual objectification of women is arguably far less oppressive than women’s sexual objectification of men. Let’s not forget the women who gave male pacifists a white flower as a symbol of shame and female ostracism (basically “you ain’t getting any pussy now because you’re not prepared to march into a hail of machine gun fire for us”). But I digress….

    > The only thing I’m fairly sure of is that Milo is confident that she’s beautiful, and she likes to show it off.

    Such cynicism! She is clearly a VERY talented artist who has obviously practiced long and hard to master the art of taking her clothes off and standing about on various surfaces up to four feet off the ground. The fact that she in young, attractive and has a fit body is just one of those mad coincidences I’m sure.

    > But I can’t see that she’s doing any favors for female artists or women in general.

    Well, she is for those women who can’t paint, sculpt, sing, dance, weave, weld, sew, mould or photograph but still want to earn a living as ‘artists’. She’s inventing a whole new genre perfectly suited for them. Although she’s hardly inventing it (see Yoko Ono etc), she’s just keeping the tradition strong …. and I guess dumbing it down (if that is even possible!)

    > Au contraire, she’s unintentionally affirming a standard in which female artists have to be beautiful and sexy in order to have a career in art;

    Or…. that women CAN have careers in art by just standing about naked, as long as you are reasonably fit and attractive – which most young female art graduates are. Great! Don’t have to go and work in a topless bar after all (Mummy and Daddy will be so pleased).

    > I no longer see Milo Moire as a sympathetic, budding artist who sold her body to the art world because that was her only viable route to success. Now she seems like a privileged opportunist working in league with the art institution and status quo. I’ve lost all faith and interest in her as an artist.

    So you’re a misogynist as well as an uncultured pleb! 😉

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    1. I would reply to arguments in your comment, but I refuse to engage with someone who resorts to insults and name-calling. Also, I skimmed you comment, and it didn’t seem worthy of me taking the time to read through. If you want to make an argument, though, and shave off the insults, I’ll be happy to address your concerns. Otherwise it’s going to be a flame war, and you are going to get burned alive.

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      1. All my name calling was sarcastic (note the winking smileyface). I was parodying some of the deranged attitudes in the arts world and in society at large …… attitudes which mean these kinds of publicity stunt gets taken seriously as art.

        I am mostly agreeing with you, or at least on the same page.

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        1. Your comment opened thusly, “This is because you lack the intelligence to grasp the multi layered meanings that her work embodies.” Unless that is a self-parody, I don’t have time for that kind of insult. Try it on anyone else and see where it gets you.

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          1. I’m sorry, I really thought it would completely obvious that I was being sarcastic/ satirical. Obviously my sarcasm was too dry. My bad 😦

            My point was that there is a prevailing attitude in the arts world and culture in general (several decades in the making) whereby any twit can pull a publicity stunt and call it ‘art’ and attach some pseudo intellectual nonsense about “challenging the notion of what art is or can be” (translation: I want my pile of bricks to be taken seriously as ‘art’).

            The emphasis has been shifted from the artist to prove the worth of his or her art, to the viewing public being expected to somehow ‘find the meaning’ in what appears on the surface to be a load of garbage…. or in this case a lady with no clothes on holding a baby.

            I was expressing that attitude, but only to mock it. Picasso is a good example because he COULD ACTUALLY PAINT, and so when he ‘broke all the rules’ and ‘challenged notions of what art could be’ he had the authority (and the genius) to do so.

            Unfortunately artists like Picasso paved the way for others with no talent or ambition to skip the bit where you actually master your art, and jump straight to the bit where you ‘challenge what art can be’ by emptying your rubbish bin onto your bed and calling it ‘art’ (or whatever).

            Sorry comment offended you – that was not my intention.

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            1. Oh, that whole comment was sarcastic. I get it now. You’ll have to forgive me for missing that, because, I OFTEN get completely serious comments that say that same sort of thing, and because it started out that way, like I said before, I didn’t read it. Seriously, I’ve had philosophy debates where I’ve repeatedly had to insist that the other parties stop insulting me, after which they usually start to notice that they can’t hold up their end of the argument, not surprisingly. [On the other hand, oddly, when people want to say something really nice, they send me a private email.]

              But now I went back and read your comment, and if I’d read it through the first time I would definitely have gotten your humor. It’s obviously sarcastic, and has a few good jokes in there as well!

              No offense taken. It’s like a joke that’s better because I didn’t get it at first.

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              1. In retrospect I should have put (sarcasm) …. /…. (end of sarcasm) tags just to be clear because, as you said, many people do hold such views in all seriousness!

                To make matters more confusing the bit I wrote about patriarchy (in response what you wrote about naked ladies carrying wine and cheese) was NOT sarcasm.

                Anyway, I think we are roughly on the same page. Sorry for winding you up (albeit unintentionally) .

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                1. Yeah, I recognized the patriarchy thing as not sarcastic. It was all perfectly obvious once I read past the first couple sentences. I do a fair amount of pranks and hoaxes, so am no stranger to sarcasm, satire, irony, or doing send-up. You’re speaking my language. You just had no idea how many nasty comments I’ve received…

                  I’m not opposed to your ideas on the patriarchy, which sound a lot like Warren Farrell. Of course it is well worth noting that men also get cast into limiting roles where they are forced to make sacrifices. I remember in grad school, during a seminar, a bunch of my female classmates going on about how a girl is supposed to be a cheerleader. Finally I chimed in that a boy is supposed to be a football player. Silence. Yes, it sucks to be the gender that gets carted off to be on the front lines of someone else’s war. Both genders get short changed by the polarization of genders and gender roles. And as bad as men have it sometimes, there’s no doubt that women frequently have the shorter end of the stick – consider the serious lack of women in China (something like 50,000,000) due to the prevalence of infanticide of female babies. So, I’m pretty much for the increased understanding and empowerment of both genders, as long as they don’t attack the other gender, or direct hatred at them, which one sees too often.

                  Thanks for the comments.

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  2. > For me the piece would have been more effective if the nude woman in the gallery were of average weight and build.

    I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with this. I agree because a confrontation with the nudity of a mother’s body that’s more typical of the general population would seem to be more confrontational. Then again, isn’t her point that she has to take on the celery and coffee diet and self-harm through surgical intervention in order to present the way that art has historically been a party to reproducing ‘model’ images of womanhood?

    Although I get the intention, I doubt that this performance makes a difference to anything. It’s true that nudity can be confrontational: I’ve twice found myself in pubs where there were strippers, and I found myself under pressure, in the presence of the women’s nudity, to cheer along with the men as a way to overcome my sense of embarrassment. Maybe it was my liberal leftist side. Maybe it was the feeling that not cheering along would have brought awkwardness to the situation. Politically, for me anyway, the best vote is with your pocket – avoid these situations and then you don’t fund / perpetuate them. My point is that another person’s nudity is uncomfortable in a clothed society (a tautology of sorts). I suppose where this artwork doesn’t work for me is that the ‘art context’ takes that discomfort away from situations that can be stumbled upon, such as an unfamiliar pub, and instead provides a safe place where the nature of the nudity has been risk-assessed and the people encountering it will be, on the whole, middle-class and educated people scratching their chins at a political viewpoint they’re already sympathetic towards.

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    1. “Then again, isn’t her point that she has to take on the celery and coffee diet and self-harm through surgical intervention in order to present the way that art has historically been a party to reproducing ‘model’ images of womanhood?”

      That interpretation makes good sense, but doesn’t appear to be her intent, at least not according to her website. Part of the problem with seeing it as a critique of the treatment of “the model” in traditional art – and thus of her presenting herself in a role as having been subjected to the contemporary expectations of a female model – is that she basically looks the same in her other nude performances. Oh, wait, you’re saying that it’s addressing how art has defined female beauty. I misread your sentence. Still, I don’t know how she can be criticizing a body image, and/or the societal forces that compel women to achieve it, if she’s willingly chosen it for herself and is proud of it. Unless you mean that she’s not objecting to the “modeling of womanhood”, but rather just embodying it.

      My strong impression was that the specifics of her appearance weren’t an issue in the piece, in which case for me they became an issue. She seems as critical of breast implants as Michael Jackson was of skin lighteners. But, I can’t really make sense out of her piece, so I could be wrong.

      I haven’t checked to see if anyone has written anything more substantive since the news of the performance hit the net. Maybe there’s something out there that will shed more light.

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      1. First, thanks for the post. I found your perspective to be both enlightening and thought-provoking.

        Full disclosure, I actually found your site when I searched for “milo moire boob job” because it seemed to me she had had “work done,” and I, like you, was cynical….or maybe I just didn’t really know what to make of it. My knee-jerk reaction was to think of her as a hack especially as I have seen her performances progress. How difficult is it to be a commercially successful “artist” when your art includes, or in some instances merely is, displaying your very attractive nude body to the public?

        Your post definitely considers the issue in much greater detail than I ever did. As you began to explain your perspective, however, I ironically began to see how, giving her the benefit of a doubt, there could be quite a bit of artistic merit to this piece.

        At face value, her apparently surgically enhanced body seems to confirm the perspective that her performance art is merely attention-seeking exhibitionism; she loves her body, wants everyone to know it, and wants everyone to love her body too. And this may very well be true. As you say….

        However, I believe this perspective steals her intentionality away from her and fails to consider the possibility that she may have gotten implants for artistic reasons. In this case, I could easily see her performance in the museum being intentionally absurd. She is walking nude in front of paintings exhibiting Classical feminine beauty to highlight the vast difference relative to today’s standard, of which her body is almost archetypical (including the lack of pubic hair and breast implants). Meanwhile, she is holding a baby to only amplify the absurdity as today’s standard of beauty flies against the notion of what being feminine, in a biological sense, truly IS. As you noted, “She’s got a baby, but doesn’t look like a mom.”

        Granted, even if her cosmetic decisions truly do have artistic motivations, she probably does not sacrifice much that these motivations happen to result in her having a beautiful body by today’s standards.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for the comment. You raise an interesting question. Did Milo get a boob job for artistic reasons? I understand you to mean something to the effect of she is making herself look like a Barbie Doll in order to critique the societal pressure to look like a Barbie Doll, and then showing how ridiculous the desired image is in relation to even female subjects in classical nudes. In short, she deliberately objectified her own body to protest against the objectification of women’s bodies.

          I think I read she does some modeling, and I know her husband is a fashion photographer (goes by Peter Palm) who does very conventional shots of idealized thin women. There are some very normal fashion shots of her in this article: http://www.1meee.com/milo-moire/

          I like your theory, and it makes me think. However, I’m not really persuaded by it (but not rejecting it outright either). I have some counterarguments.

          If the object is to present audiences with the incongruousness of a woman who looks like a fashion model, with a baby, in a museum where classical nudes are much more physically robust, why not just hire a model to do that as a performance without conforming oneself to the stereotype?

          It’s also a bit like becoming a playboy in order to deconstruct being a playboy. Or, becoming a body builder and using steroids in order to counter the male image that is driving men to use steroids…

          I rather think she approves of boob jobs (I’m not saying I don’t) and all the conventional beauty standards her natural form allows her to satisfy (with some modifications and touch ups). However, she still thinks women are objectified, and people are squeamish about seeing female models nude in art or everyday contexts. Maybe she’s saying women should have a right to show off their bodies, safely of course, and it doesn’t matter if they are cosmetically enhanced…

          I really can’t wade through all the contradictions and get a clear social message out of it, and yet the social message is what is supposed to carry the art.

          I’m open to broader understanding and alternate explanations. I’ve done performance art myself, including going around my university covered in eggs and ketchup and mustard and whatnot decadese ago (I got rather creative about it and incorporated a home-fashioned space helmet, and comical elements like having pieces of bologna sticking out of my pocekts… ) so, er, if I can’t get what she’s going on about, maybe that’s not a good sign. I’m also rather sympathetic to women’s causes, though, admittedly, I’m never fond of fingers pointing at me and saying I am inherently or inescapably bad, when that happens, as so frequently did in art school.

          If I’m wrong, I’m happy to admit it. I welcome it. But I haven’t seen anything yet that I can understand to convince me what Milo is doing is really progressive.

          In the image below she just looks like a typical fashion model. Not that this is worth anything, but I’d probably find her more attractive minus the cosmetic upgrades.

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    2. > Then again, isn’t her point that she has to take on the celery and coffee diet and self-harm through surgical intervention in order to present the way that art has historically been a party to reproducing ‘model’ images of womanhood?

      But (as another commenter has pointed out below) the women in the paintings look more realistic to us (ie more body fat).

      As a very general rule, beauty standards are judged by two main criteria (1) Objective and universal standards like facial/ body symmetry, full thick hair, good teeth, clear skin and other indicators of good genes and good health……. and (2) the ‘unobtainable’ qualities, which change depending on the time period in question.

      For example, in the past when the environment was much harsher (due to lack of technology) and resources were scarce (not least food) it was actually quite rare to see people who were well nourished, let alone over fed! The majority of the population was scrawny and bony. So it was actually quite hard to achieve that voluptuous, full figure we often see in older paintings. And that was why such voluptuous – and sometime downright portly – women were a beauty standard of that age. Not only was that amount of body fat unobtainable for most women, it was a sign of wealth and status to be able to have enough food to be able to put on weight like that.

      Fast forward to modern society and the opposite is true. New technology has created a society which mostly works sitting down in front of a computer all day. Even factory work is usually aided by machines. What was typical housework for the average woman 200 years ago (scrubbing floors by hand, washing clothes by hand, tending the allotment, plucking fowl, butchering meat etc) would be viewed as manual labour in most people’s eye’s today (even most men!). And so in the modern world it’s very easy to put on weight, and the lower classes often end up buying sugary, fatty over-processed foods because they tend to be cheaper these days. It actually costs more money to eat old fashioned organic, unprocessed, wholesome food these days.

      So in the modern world being skinny has come to be associated with wealth and status (ie people who can afford to eat healthily and go to the gym), and being fat – or at least constantly battling with weight gain and unfitness – has become the norm throughout society. So that is why being thin is now revered, whereas in the past having lots of wobbly bits was revered.

      The obsession with being thin is really unique to the western post industrial/ technological nations (for the reasons given above). In many less developed nations where people still do a lot of manual labour and there are less resources having body fat is still regarded as a sign of wealth and status and is still what most people aspire to.

      @ Eric Wayne … and just to be clear this comment is NOT sarcastic 😉

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  3. You know what I get from these pictures? The ladies in the paintings on the walls look more real than Milo does. So if that is part of what she is trying to show us, then she has succeeded. But I know nothing of her work, except for what you’ve written here, Eric. And I can say that when I go to museum shows and sell the Velasquezes and other old masters, I am amazed at how natural the women in their paintings look. No Barbie Doll types there!

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  4. I dont understand your point that she is giving off an unrealistic standard of beauty or is too fit to be doing this art.

    It is so silly, what you are pretty much saying is beautiful and good looking people shouldn’t do performance art. Pretty discriminatory if you ask me.

    Furthermore, she does not have implants.

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    1. She’s giving an unrealistic standard of beauty FOR A NEW MOTHER! See what I’m saying? A new mother going around in high heels? No. Still don’t see it? Did you read my article? I thought I made that very clear.

      Further, how do you know she doesn’t have implants? Check ’em out here, and see if you change your mind. http://www.juxtapoz.com/erotica/milo-moire-attends-art-basel-naked

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, and giving me the benefit of the doubt. Others are not so considerate or respectful.

      Cheers

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  5. Totally agree with you Eric. You’re absolutely right about everything you said.
    And i dont think that giving she the benefict of the doubt its gonna make that perfomance closer to be an art work, because it doesnt, it is just making us to elaborate a better argument on why this is not art.
    Sorry my english im from Argentina.

    Liked by 1 person

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