performance art

december 21

Edited.

There's doing figural art work and there is using the figure in art work.  I, at one time, created figural art work but I now consider my work as using the figure in/as art work.  I do this not to sensationalize or titillate, despite how some outside the art world have thought about my work.  (In fact, I don't think I'm at all controversial or ever have been).

i returned to the museum the other day... still waiting on Yoko to call.

i returned to the museum the other day... still waiting on Yoko to call.

 

I use the figure as an exploration of Self- the same investigation I was making when I created figural art work, except I made so much of itand still struggled to create the appropriate conversation around it.  In the end and what encouraged me to rethink my approach is that the figure, no matter what movement or gesture I tried to use, still felt like a passive object that one applies marks to or around.  

This hardly felt fitting.  I spent many years building my work from the innocent or fallen archetype to the empowered.  And yet it seems cliche for me, as I sit and type this.  Believe me, I had the best of intentions.  I have always told students, ALWAYS, that one needs to make everything they have made (the good, the bad, and the ugly) in order to know how to make what one makes today.  I love when they say it back to me.  But I digress…

I am winding down my time here- all too fast- and I just told someone that I wish I had made more.  I'm not sure why I decided to learn new software.  I'm not sure how my job took up so much time- but again, I know I would not be here without the support from it.  All in all, there is no going backwards.  Only forwards.

But I do think about the why of my work.  I think what it all boils down to is how uncomfortable i am in my own skin.  I mean, I know I have strengths but I am conditioned to dwell on my weaknesses.  This is most likely because of my own making, but I don't discredit that this may very well be a symptom of gender.  

I always liked to think that I rose up beyond the conditions of gender, asking the larger questions.  But I come to realize that it is not just the questions we ask but also how we respond, isn't it?  The two pieces I am showing in the our exhibition next week are entirely about response.  When I was thinking about them last night, I realize I am working with a gendered response and these works are entirely back to square one- the fallen archetype.  The one who feels without her own agency.  The one who's thoughts are disconnected from her actions.  One who suppresses rather advocates.  

It's somewhat frustrating but obviously a pattern of mine.  Doesn't the saying always go, "we repeat things until we learn from them?"

I had a critique last year with an artist- quite a positive one.  I had made a piece (or exercise) that came from pure joy.  It felt so different and he noted to try to work from different access points.  I do think about that often however I begin to think that in order to "widen the lens" one must understand the source.  Thoroughly.  

My life swings between moments of empowerment dashed by crippling insecurity.  Is this something I admit to on the internet?  I guess to make my point this is exactly what I do.  Let's rattle off all the phrases that women hear: Lean in; Personal is Political; "A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." (Eleanor Roosevelt); "I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay." (Madonna).  You'll love to know that I was reminded of those last two quotes from Bazaar magazine's article entitled "30 Empowering Quotes from Women Who Dare."

I'm so sick of hearing stuff like this.  Women are so over-saturated with these messages of empowerment and strength that we say we hear it, we give it a "like" on social media yet we (the collective we) don't change the game.  We continue to cope with a horribly skewed playing field (2016 Presidential Election, anyone?).  We are "making it in a man's world” (gag) and while girls are being encouraged to love themselves for who they are (and I think this is great), there still is a huge current to swim against to get the same things as some others.

I'm almost angry that I have chosen to work from a place that reinforces a lack of power-  Instead of "leaning in," one should sit this one out.  But this is a frustrating reality of our gender and perhaps I grapple with wanting to be an outspoken, articulate warrior however remain authentic to my own experience.  Perhaps this is a different kind of warrior, who knows.

As I reread what I have written here, I know that perhaps it is important to voice the conditions of gendered response.  How many other women exist this way?  Just a short few months ago, I swam in my confidence and possibility.  Now, this moderately accomplished woman, can hardly advocate for the simplest of requests.  Why the change?  Perhaps it is because I had a huge life change this year and life changes always stir up questions of our self image but I tend to also question, are there other factors here?

 

 

december 13

A quick update to yesterday- While I spent most of my day grading, I did cap the evening off with a truly Icelandic experience... going to the outdoor pool.  Pools are a very big thing here and are open year round.  It seems like it is where everyone goes to just meet, hang out and talk.  Another resident and I agreed we would go together on day one (or so, but who's counting).  

 view from poolside

 view from poolside

The pools are geothermal so they are heated and around the perimeter are "hot pots" which are hot tubs heated to set temperatures.  While I loved being in the hottest one, my friend needed to moved to the next one down.  I eventually did too and we spent the evening discussing foreign languages and places to visit next.  We befriended an Icelander who was hilarious and great to have in the conversation mix.  Conclusion: we are going back!  Soon!

PS. One does not take their towel outside.  One dashes from the locker room to the desired pool or hot pot and jumps in.  It's a cold dash but I came to find you don't need it after time in the water.

As a break from grading yesterday, I decided to write a bit more about drawing.


A definition on drawing:

My recent performative work really grew out of the act of drawing and my early work in my studies that responded to the body through adornment.  

I view drawing as an act of mark-making and anyone who has ever taken a class with me knows that I value the power of the mark.  Three years ago I began to make drawings based on body proportions and measurements.  I considered them figural works, although not obviously the figure as we know it.  I had grown tired of depicting the figure with marks applied to its image.  I grew to feel that the overall imagery seemed disconnected- that the figure was still a passive object to which the artist applied marks to and around.

These newer works were meant to be more psychological and ontological.  They embraced error and the interdependence of the artist to drawing.  The artist creates the mark, intentionally, methodically while the drawing expresses the narrative.  While the drawings became more satisfying to make and felt less objectifying of the figure, the thing that emerged as most important was how it felt to make these works.

making a drawing

making a drawing

The ACT of making the drawing I noticed to be physical.  I had the same feeling creating a drawing as I did after a class of yoga.  It either cleared my head or drew attention to parts of my body I hadn't thought about in a while.  While this was invigorating, I soon grew bored of working on paper, not matter how many different ways I thought about making marks that reference the body.  

It grew into more drawings that were based on the body proportion while also involving the body.  And then there were drawings that happened just on the body.  This further grew into sculptural work- which also is quite physical but one doesn't lose oneself in a sculpture like they do a drawing (or knitting for that matter).  If my wrists weren't such a mess, I'd knit night and day.

Last winter, I made a piece that was a simple object oriented around the body.  It was rope and it used the same proportions as my circle drawings but the rope came to mean so much more.  Length of my Infinite Love is the length of my arm span but made from material that is meant to bring things together, secure them from falling apart, yet it can go too far and have a destructive quality to it.  I struggled with making other art pieces with this material that were as potent and meaningful as this one.  

the length of my infinite love

the length of my infinite love

In the Spring, I was challenged by my advanced drawing students to the "Obstruction" assignment.  This is an assignment I base off of Richard Linklater (more info here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0354575/)  to my advanced students- to each write a "rule" to consider when remaking what you consider your masterpiece.   I worked with the Length of my Infinite Love and if I remember correctly, I had to 1. use a personal item, 2. no circles, 3. no cats, and 4. use watercolor (the one that threw me most for a loop).  It wasn't a great piece (a sandbag made from a mattress casing hung from 2 ropes, watercolored) but it opened the door to a small performance I did carrying seven 3 pound weights around my neck.  The piece ended up as The Weight of These Decisions.  Three pounds is the weight of the average human brain and I wanted to mark the physicality of one's decisions- emotions that we feel in our body and know as real.  Seven of these weights represent a finite amount of time around these decisions.

the weight of these decisions

the weight of these decisions

 

While THIS wasn't a great performance, THIS was a great drawing.  This is what I wanted drawing to tackle for me- authenticity.  Why draw about something when you can draw with and on it?  I wanted a visceral connection to the work.  And this is very different than drawing ON my body a few years back.  The marks are felt.  The weight is carried.  The message is engrained.

Drawing is a vast modality.  It no longer needs to be matted and framed on the wall.  For me, my experiences can be recorded in the skin of my body, using that as my medium.  And our life is carried in that body; we express our individuality in our body, why not use our body as the source, medium, and product.