Sunday, May 31, 2009

film project

my buddy kate and i are working on a film. it's going to be about 30-60mins and focus on disability, sex, queerness and smut through a narrative-docu lens. i'm super excited about the project but only now am i realizing how HUGE an undertaking these things are. 

so we were sitting down for brunch with her pal who was giving us advice on how to write a budget, etc, and she said 'you know, you'll probably get asked why sex? isn't sex oppressive/dirty?'

and it's funny how the most obvious questions can be the most difficult to answer. 

sex. its that thing that we all have in so many capacities. stolen. empowered. but it plays a role in defining us a people. personally it was the battleground on which i lost legitimacy in my humanness.

Can you even have sex? Can you even kiss? Did god make you to be celibate? 

i'm a survivor, so its not as though i don't realize sex isn't always pleasure - isn't always empowering. But isn't validity something we all chase?

if i meet you under the sheets instead of on the street, the rules change. we're naked and fucking and it's forgiving and about getting off, rather than pretending we're normal. i can see every freckle, mole, stretch mark you hate. and my business is loving your body - if only momentarily.

it changes things. its the proof i need to demonstrate what my tired words never suffice. telling you i'm 'normal' is bs. telling you i'm just like you is also bs. telling you i wanna fuck and it'll be hot, is not. 

sex is that place of infinite contradictions. you can fuck someone you hate. you can fuck to express love. you could fuck and rather be doing your laundry.

i'm sick of having to smile and play the part of some two dimensional helpless, white quasimodo girl just to get respect. respect doesn't get me laid, i'm sorry. and yeah, sex isn't everything. but goddamn it, i like a good fuck as much as the next guy. 

so i look at porn and think - well yeah, this isn't me. no hunch backs. no facial differences. no clubbed feet. i can't go around telling you i'm 'just like' these porn stars, cuz i'm not. my body maps different curves. and jesus. i don't want every crip to have to go through as much therapy as i did to unpackage the ableism they're swimming in, just to realize 'hey - i'm fucking sexy' ten years and several thousand dollars later.  disability should not be a scapegoat for self deprecation and masochism - an excuse to not let yourself be happy. 

and sure, not everyone's gonna listen to me. we're a breed hell bent on destruction. but some of you will. and if that gets a few more sexy crips laid, then i'll die a satisfied queer.

i mean really. who wants to waste any time wondering if the sex they do have is just a series of pity fucks? 

i'm worried too. i know that putting myself out there like this has risks. a lot of which are due to the fact that we are all on different pages when it comes to what acceptable behaviour when it comes to being naked for public viewing.

but when i stand in a doctor's office and let him touch and examine my body i do not feel ecstasy. nor when i stand in a naked in a gallery, on the walls. but one is expected of me. regularly. the other, rarely. 

you're allowed to look at me in text books at the library and its science but in a magazine behind the counter its filthy? what is oppression, anyway? 

it's control. 

when i get naked for my lens, its mine. when i am depicted as sexual, its mine. when i force you to deal with my sexuality, gender, privilege, scars, your fetishes, your fear - its mine.  

Saturday, May 30, 2009

for kninja

pick 5 words that describe you, that you hold dear to you. values you define yourself by. 5 of them. then write a stream of consciousness on each one. don't think. just write.

small. speak. soft. syllables. sara.

small seems a funny thing to pick as a self descriptor. too obvious? perhaps. but i like that. a woman at the gallery said to me last night that she sees me as very tall. because of my work? i don't know. its funny how people will try to compliment you by telling you you are things that you are not, as some sort of metaphor. i like being small. small as humble. small and crawly. some of my favourite photographs that i've taken have required my height. its point of view. its average in Lima. its little person territory in canada. like when my buddies and i were referred to as androgynous midgets. in that 'gasp! a plague!' sort of way. but man. small means small and climbing. tall means bending. my first girlfriend was very tall. and she would bend and i would climb and sometimes it was awkward but most of the time it was fun. no metaphor. just fun. have you ever climbed someone? mmmm.

speak was easy because i am such a chatterbox. but also, it makes me think of this fabulous poet named shane that i love and he has this one line where he says 'shut up and say something' and the notion isn't lost on me. we challenge ourselves to speak up and out and with purpose but rarely do we try to speak differently. just louder and louder. and i don't know how good i am at this yet but i like to try. speaking with silences. speaking by listening. speaking by answering questions with answers other than what was requested of me. not cuz i'm tryin to get all lezzy and rebel but because i think we sell ourselves short too often. i want to say whats on my mind with feelings or smells. i like modern poetry, gee can you tell? haha. this is me being a nutter.

soft is harder. because i try to hide the soft sometimes. or convince myself that soft is weak, when in fact i think it is opposite. i grew up mortering a wall around my heart to solidify the organ containing my passion. clearly i'm a softy. clearly i puss and puss. but i'm also really frickin relentless. depression is interesting because i can be so deprecating and sad and people worry but i am way too committed to those things and to living to ever actually leave. soft is what i work on. soft is being honest about my tender bits. soft is remembering to tell people how i love them. 

syllables. its not really its own sentence but it is too. my life centers around saying things. i went to speech therapy when i was young. we got to play all these fun board games. i say we but it was just me and the lady who would make me say p and b and v and f before i got to roll the dice during mouse trap. and then i pretended to be a speech therapist with my bestfriend who would have only been 5 or 6. and her mom caught us and chuckled at me.  i feel as though that story is perhaps irrelevant but so are a lot of things that reside persistently in our memory. i was scared of talking because of that. talking the way i did and not how i learned. it wasn't like bike riding. it never got easier to find p and b and v and f. it just made me hesitate before each one. and move my jaw around them in this awkward maneuver that you could liken to the way i approached the concept of hurtles in gym class. i wish there was a word with all four of those letters in it. i would say it over and over the way my mouth wants to say it. there probably is such a word. i should find it. 

sara - okay, not a word. but a name i have liked ever since sara plain and tall. i don't think i ever read the book but i remember the cover. and the expression my teacher had when she read from it. and i like thinking about people who have impressioned me unknowingly. awkward people who are so much your opposite you become fascinated with their innerworkings. a person of few words who you mistakenly assume doesn't see you, hear you, care at all. but she does. they do. and they're warm inside their coldness and their cackle reminds you of how kissing chemistry can make you thirstier than gallons of desert. and you just want more and more until you're not sure what is what and how far up is up. and you, lover of memory, wish that you could forget so badly, and slowly you do. almost entirely. but you don't. and the other her is her who is more scared than you. a different she, who you'd almost swear was your reflection. with differences. but the same scared mapped out on another kitchen floor. and it makes you sad to see broken like you're broken. because it happens anyway. no matter what. you chose vitamins, she chose zanex. or zoloft. or zzzz. and doesn't know quite how to let go of this vision she's got of herself. and i'm probably the same. but i have faith. in time. in knowing that i'll laugh at me and me and it will echo heartily in my chest - rattling with age and smoking occasionally. i wonder what i'll look like then. after the years. if i'll be able to name my wrinkles. deprecation. anxiety. masochism. alcohol. worry. love. lover. i like the way skin feels. when it is old. it gets leathery and then it relaxes and billows. so badass.

joni mitchell

okay so i owe you more than just a flouzy three liner. i guess i've been putting this off because SO much has happened that i don't even know where to start.

so. art shows! three openings in a week! i clearly over-commit myself. but all were splendid. well sort of. there was a bit of a negative response to the work up at CAYA. but i met with cory silverberg and we came up a neat way to address the 'questions'. and of course, i got my sass on.

As soon as jes sachse’s show Alleviate went up as part of the 2009 Contact Festival we started getting comments, questions, and reviews from visitors and customers in the store. Some of the questions (asked below and answered by the artist) may seem rude or uncomfortable.  In some cases they are both.  But one thing that we noticed was that in most cases they weren’t asked rudely or with malice, but rather out of a genuine curiousity.  For this reason, both jes and Come As You Are felt they were important to address because an honest question (which most of these were) deserves a direct answer.


1. Why would you take naked pictures of yourself?

I will respond here to this question assuming it is referring to both the act of me taking the photos and then subsequently showing the work publicly. Initially, my infatuation with nude self portraits derived itself from a pressing desire to interrogate the gaze - by which I mean, the lens I am placed under by the outside world. What aspects of my identity are visible in a still image? There is definitely a noticeable progression in this work, as you see early shots with an obvious invitation of looking (self exhibitionism as an attempt to reclaim this position of the disabled subject being unautonomously gazed at) to more current work in which I am staring back at the viewer. 

The nudity aspect is merely a removal of construction on my part. Without clothes, the viewer is forced to examine the subject without the cues of material. In this way, I am inviting a closer look at my gender, sex and race and the body as the site in which these things interact. Nakedness itself, depending on context, can be an invasion of the private space, or a resistance in the public space. Ultimately, my work is about littering images, particularly given that the of ways in which we are told to see physical disability in the maintstream sense is limited. 

This has birthed in many ways, my inspiration for incorporating the medical with the sexual. Peeing standing up in sterile bathroom. A prescription bottle phallicly between my breasts. bandages binding my face, hands and chests as I orally fixate on a dice, or a set of matches. A patient-doctor seduction. A construction mask over my face and a pylon over my genitals. These are all medical and gendered signifiers placed in an erotic context - sometimes playfully, sometimes jarringly.  

But getting back to the original question...why? Why this medium? Because I see it as an entirely effective means for achieving my goal, which is to have you, the viewer, approach the image from your own reality, and react accordingly. It has little to do with me at all, in fact. My body merely serves as catalyst, to provoke the very questions being asked.

2.That doesn’t look real. Is this work photoshoped? I don't actually own much design software. Little enhancing has been done on my work. Save for cropping and playing with hues/saturation in some cases. It wouldn't be that congruent with my style, actually. I like the very candid feel. If this question refers specifically to parts of my body...such as my face or're getting the real deal here, folks.

3. Wow, she’s so brave!

Well, I suppose you could see it that way. In doing work that is provocative, one opens themselves up to a lot - critcism, hate, anger - and if the work is self-representative it means often that one personally takes the hit. I have accepted a lot of the risks, as an artist working in this medium, and hope to use the unsafe spaces I'm creating to meet people at their level. Not stooping, but probing. We tend to fear that more than retaliation. None of this is really about bravery and 'the movement' and saying something, but rahter it's about images - how they confine us, and how we confine others.  

4. Why would anyone want to see that?

Hmm. You know? I'm really not sure. A naked person...mime fallacing a lego man...lathered in whipped cream...drenched with water...

When will the visual pollution end?! 

5. A lot of customers ask questions wanting to know about your disability. I find this an interesting response on their part and wonder what you think of it?

I don't find this reaction to be a surprising response. I am presenting my body in a exhibit-like medium - an avenue which people are very familiar with approaching different bodies through. 

I don't want to talk like an expert here. Or a torch bearer for the disability movement. So I will speak as an artist. I have provided all the information I intended for the viewer to have within the framing of each image. A need to further 'diagnose' on the part of the observer is not something to be ashamed of, but rather a reaction indicative of the way we approach 'disability' - and here I am referring specifically to a discernible physical difference. What IS a diagnosis other than a story?

Jump back a hundred years or so. Barnum and Bailey's. The Hottentot Venus. The Wild Men from Borneo. The Bearded Lady. The Super Small Man: from the faraway land of everything miniature, raised by wild dogs, this creature spent years trekking through forests and deserts, surviving only on leaves and cactus syrup. 

More than the wow-factor of these circus pitches, you have a story. It doesn't matter if its factually accurate - as viewers we've been trained to request an explanation (and with evolution of technology, a very scientific one) for what we perceive as 'wild', 'odd', 'rare' or 'freakish'. Like the joined last names of two white coated dead guys. 

But performing is in my blood, and I'm not one to disappoint, so come one, come all:

See jes sachse! Born into the loving yet unsuspecting clutches of a white, heterosexual Baptist couple, this gender variant humpback beast was raised by the exotic fields of Uxbridge - a Southern Ontario town known for it's Quaker heritage and possessed cattle. Never one to back down from a challenge, young jes befriended the methane flatulating oxen (after which the town was named), only to learn of their true gentle nature. But the village people felt threatened by their power, so they were exiled to the far reaches of the sleepy town, where this quasimodo developed a love for capturing their own form with point-and-shoot lens. Speaking only the language of shutters and apertures, young jes is here for you today for one time only

so there's that. oh and some press. 

ALSO. my lovely friend meagh and i were chatting today at this cafe in peterborough where she works, which is pretty much my second home. and makes me realize how internet and coffee dependent i am... anyhoo. so we were talking about neurosis and 'dry spells' yadda yadda and then she says 'we should make a zine called neurotica'. which is probably the most tragically hilarious and scrumptious creative project i've heard of. but it's gonna happen. sex and anxiety like you never seen it before. 

also i totally need to get laid. 2 month itch. gahhhhHHhhhh.

i don't know if the aforementioned is internet appropriate. but whatever. i figure once you're a porn star, you can do whatever you want.

lately i've been feeling rather floaty. but what really makes me tickled is my new thing: making acrylic paintings in my room while listening to joni mitchell topless. you get paint all over your arms, and its just so quieting. i think i flux a lot. i haven't really written poetry in a while, which may just be indicative of needing less words and more abstraction. meh.

i also keep having very real and intense dreams. to the point where i wonder if i just need a new crush to get all neurotic over, instead of the fields of my past. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

breathe breathe


city of dreams. metropolis of many. epicentre of urban centres.

taker of finances. giver of exhaustion.