It’s so weird to look back on old artist statements, sometimes they seem incredibly naive and fatuous, and other times I think “what happened to this confident, clever young woman?” It feels like I’ve gotten dumber over time.
This was also work to do with the aesthetics of romance culture.
ARTIST STATEMENT- FINAL REVIEW, FIRST YEAR, 2000
In my new work, I have been using the same source material, but putting the emphasis in different places. In the first series, I feel to express anything more about relationships and the nature of romantic love in society. I would actually have to break away from the original images completely and try recontextualising the whole work. Whereas, in the second series I think there is still room to explore the romance novel aesthetic and what it means (or what I think it means).
I have been very interested in general lately in the search for the ecstatic experience and all the weird and wonderful ways it manifests itself in human culture. Traditionally the rigid asceticism of organised religion, by means of starvation rituals, self-mutilation, hallucinogens, vows of silence, poverty and chastity guarded this experience. In a modern, ever secular society, the experience has been repackaged and commodified- you can get it watching Oprah’s “Remembering Your Spirit” segment, by reading a romance novel, passing on sentimental chainmail, or sponsoring a child in Uganda. This is people compensating in fits and starts for a lack of spiritual connectedness in life. A connectedness that in a consumer society, we are led to believe we deserve and have an instant right to- just like every other product on the market.
In the work itself, I am trying to juxtapose illusion with reality. In the first piece, this means the illusion of love (romance) and the reality (loneliness). In the second piece, I wanted to express the dual nature of romantic culture- a predominately female culture. That is, the nobility of the sentiment expressed in a romance novel- that of transcendence through the unity of man and woman (as expressed on the women’s facial expressions) and the ultimately pornographic function of it. My first attempt at this was to create two “romance icons”. The series of female faces was meant to be like a religious tableau, whereas the male torsos I placed in a crucifix configuration. This was meant to be reference to not just specific religions, but a universal and ancient spiritual symbol that represents fertility, and transcendence through sex. I thought it would be interesting to use these weighty devices to frame such banal, corporeal imagery and desires. I’m not sure if this was too successful though, and have been experimenting with images directly from pornography which closely resemble the style and expressions of the romance heroines to draw the same connection.
Whether this means that the divine can be derived from the banal, or whether it means we’re all going to the dogs, I don’t quite know. I think it’s interesting and kind of touching the way people make so much out of so little. I definitely mourn the lack of religion in my life and upbringing, while also knowing that I could never be part of one. I have become aware through experience and observation that love is one of the aspects of western life that has been elevated to religious status, a means of bringing the transcendental and ecstatic into our otherwise undistinguished existences.
I haven’t mounted anything at all. This is partly because I am afraid of stuffing it up, but also because I don’t feel like I’m finished with any of it yet, don’t want to set anything in place at this point in time.