Saturday, May 30, 2009

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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment