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Critique

Unbecoming A Body (Draft)

Unbecoming A Body (Draft)

Water, heat, broccoli, lemon, white vinegar, adzuki beans, stainless steel pots, water bath, portable induction cooktops, pot grime, goats milk soap, rope, polished stone, horse hair, adhesive, Vaseline, underwear, latex, St John’s Wort, extraction fan, looping audio, gel lighting filter.

As it tingles past your nose hairs and makes its way to your throat, particular memories are summoned; a squashed body on the hottest of trains – dripping with sour sweat and bacon sandwich drippings; scorching quick sex, with slick dirty-nailed fingers and last night’s teeth – followed by a mundane errand like shopping for tomatoes and a monumental celebration shadowed by a hangover so wretched, you couldn’t move.

Categories
Critique

Crit Bits

Thinking through what might occur in my upcoming critique. This list is evolving:

  • A large pot of broccoli and water simmering on an induction burner.
  • A medium pot of lemons and water simmering on an induction burner.
  • A smaller pot of white vinegar and water simmering on an induction burner.
  • A pot with all of these things.
  • Or 3 pots with just simmering water.
  • A puddle of water that might exist in the corner of the room or in the middle of the room, or under the burners and pots.
  • An oil diffuser that has taken on a bodily form.
  • A single horse hair in a very long strand, that will touch the surface of the water.
  • On the floor, as if just removed, a pair of underwear soaked in St John’s Wort, then dried and dismantled.
  • Or a pair of St John’s Wort soaked underwear that have been stiffened and will stand in a wavy sign stand I have.
  • Or that hang at vagina height.
  • A burnt match.
  • Fish oil with lemon.
  • A large plastic sheet underneath all of these things.
  • Copper tape.
  • Heater.
  • Spot lighting will highlight each of the elements with a red filter.
  • The extraction fan will be on and a sound element will sporadically harmonize with this sound. 
  • A dripping sound element.
  • Rocks.

Categories
Writing

Unbecoming a Body

Since reading Legacy Russell’s, Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto I’ve been positing that Menopause is a glitch. Russell states that “…a glitch is an error, a mistake, a failure to function” which really struck me in the same way Menopause (1) does – my body is unable to produce a child due to the infertility that Menopause draws and no longer functions in the way it once did, its glitch-ing. However, in re-reading the text and further considering my claim, perhaps the distinction to make is that the symptoms of menopause are glitches and that Menopause itself as a function is not a glitch – as every menstruating body evolves into the Menopausal space. It is generally not an anomaly to become Menopausal (2).

The symptoms of Menopause are varied from case to case but amongst other symptoms can include hot flushes, emotional instability, hair loss and hair growth in unusual locations, changes to the shape of the body and vaginal dryness. These symptoms are usually treated with hormones, ensuring that the Menopausal body remains as manageable and as readable as possible in its original female form. Russell explains, “…when the body is determined as a male or female…the body performs gender as its score, guided by a set of rules and requirements that validate and verify the humanity of that individual. A body that…remains indecipherable within binary assignment is a body that refuses to perform the score…this glitch is a form of refusal.” Guided by this mode of thinking, to refuse hormones for the symptoms of Menopause is to refuse the systems and conventions of being female in a western patriarchal society (3).

In my current body of work, the symptoms of Menopause take the form of material, essentially re-making the conditions of Menopause in a gallery context. In formalizing these symptoms into material and shifting them to the gallery, they become body-less, also unbecoming gender and in turn, becoming glitches that exist in the in-between. Through this removal, the materials of Menopause become mystical, sensory, grotesque, though they remain familiar to the body and to the senses, these materials summon a response that is just slightly ungraspable.

“We use “body” to give material form to an idea that has no form, an assemblage that is abstract” – in unbecoming a body these materials (symptoms) refuse the systems in which a body is expected to exist, reforming a space unencumbered by conventions and resulting in a space where broadened and evolved interpretations, relationships and experiences can take place.

1. The use of the word ‘Menopause’ in this text also acknowledges the symptoms of Peri-Menopause.

2. Acceptations to this generalization might include cases of early menopause due to hysterectomies or excessive use of hormones and other medical conditions. 

3. There is also an argument here that in refusing hormones one also resists the capitalist systems of corrupt pharmaceutical and government corporations.

Glitch Feminism, A Manifesto, Legacy Russell, Verso, London, 2020

Categories
Studio

New materials of menopause

I’ve encountered some new materials of Peri-Menopause and Menopause to add to my list.

Here’s the list as it was:

St Johns Wort, PH Balancing soaps, Bacterial Vaginitis, Wetness, Panty Liners, Underwear, Hormones, Hot flushes/Heat, Hair or Loss of Hair, Karen, Derision, Infertility, Onset of physical unattractiveness (FUPA), Dryness, Orgasmic Sex (that produces hormonal bleeding).

And here’s what’s new:

Embarrassment, Sweat, Sweat patches, Exhaustion, Long Menstrual Cycles, Long Periods of Time without Menstruating (6 months), Elation and Fear of Pregnancy (mixed), Blood Stained Underwear (as an adult), Blood Stained Hands, Errant Clots (landing on floor), Flooding, Cramping, Surprise, Low moods, Wetness, Creases, Uncomfortable-ness, Genitals.

*NEW* Backaches, pain at the bridge of the noise that can only really be described as a headache.

*NEW NEW* Pressure, bursting, energy, conductivity, current.

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Studio

WIP wap

Water Room

A space with an un-even floor. Where the floor begins to slant, there is a puddle of water that levels the un-even-ness. The puddle is unmarked and very discreet. It will not be noticed until it is splashed by the encounter-er.

Perhaps this is also accompanied by the scent of water.

Heated Water or Broccoli

Water is heated in a gallery space. It may or may not contain broccoli (for scent). The heat is radiant and can be expereinced throughout the space.

Heated Seat

A concrete seat is cast with a heating element in the seated part of the seat. This heating element, heats the concrete in the same way it would a heated floor surface. It is always switched on.

Categories
Studio Writing

Described Scents

A developing set of Described Scents (check back later for updates) and a To Do list.

(Summer) Sun heated granite, wet salt, finger-rubbed tea tree leaves and your skin.

(Time (with loved ones)) Clean air, cold so that it burns the insides of your nose, the steam from simmering sugar and raspberries in a copper pot and teenage wet, sweaty skin.

(Bed) A whiff of day-old oven roasted garlic, cherry lip gloss, the plastic of a newly opened Band-aid and the damp hair of the goat from last night’s dream.

(Sex)

(Sunday night)

(Sunny mornings)

(Ssss)

(Warmth)

(Lipstick)

(Period Blood)

Categories
Reference Studio

Notes

Underwear as a hanging device.

Heated underwear – using materials from a heated blanket or seat.

Images of the insides of my mouth.

Brocoli paint.

Aquarium heating.

Hot stone massage. What else other than stones?

On Sex in the City, when Ray (jazz guy) plays Carrie like a cello. She likes it? And then she doesn’t.

Our bodies are not static they are breathing, shifting and evolving (and aging) even as we are still. Being still does not stop the movement.

Responsibility of representation. Words have weight – but also no weight – light. Reduction of action to symbols. What if every bodily movement carried the same importance as language. Every thing meant ‘something’. Sign language.

Categories
Critique

(See ya) 2020

Draft (Peri-Menopause) Premarin Edition

Artist hair, horsehair, body measurements, adhesive

Base notes of equine sweat, dry rock and grain. Middle notes of rancid, unripened lemon. Top accent of cooked broccoli water and white vinegar.

Located on the 4th Floor opposite the Printmaking Workshop

Categories
Studio

My studio is no longer a bathroom

I’m finally here and working towards installing a work for the final presentations this week. Although I know not to, I feel a sense of urgency to make something really great (because I’m here and I’m excited to meet you and get to know you and for you to know me!) but I’m resisting a little to ensure I’m presenting something that feels constructive for me.

And so, the Final Presentation work will be another exploration and test from my Materials of Menopause list (see previous posts). Here’s some pics from the new studio of work in progress.

Also sending a shout out to the MFA cohort for being so welcoming and supportive and patient with us International Students. Its been such a hard start for us all 🙂 Also to Xinwei for being able to articulate things that occur in the pit of my stomach and as a stutter in my mouth. Thanks Xinwei for being so eloquent. I appreciate you (and promise not rely on you too much for this)!

Categories
Writing

Barbara

Barbara possesses a deep awareness of her potential authority within society and within her own body. Harnessing that power, unlocks some of the universe’s greatest mysteries – yes Barbara can fly – but what else could be achieved up there at the top of an orgasm?

Barbara

Sometimes Barbara knows something will happen before it happens. She doesn’t have psychic abilities – as far as she understands – it is just that she has known or experienced most moments before and can foresee the possibilities, trajectories and likelihoods. When Barbara expresses concern for potential disaster or elation at potential success, she is ignored or tutted at. What would she know?

So far, Barbara has lived for 76 years, 364 days and 11 hours. At midnight Seven will arrive. Seven is Barbara’s lucky number; it has been proven over and over.

Barb does not get caught up in Seven’s body – it is there to perform its action. She touches her own body. Her skin is softer now, made velvety by downy hairs and layers of folded and crinkled, tissue-y flesh. She takes some time, her hand mo…ving……ev…er……so……slow…ly…… around her neck, over her breasts, down to her stomach, her hips, her touch rousing an urging pang beneath her clitoris. On command, Seven’s hand moves there, at first circling then settling with a gentle press. Seven’s other hand moves around her body, but it is her own hand that continues to excite her – it’s knowing sourced from well worn, muscle memory. Barbara’s fingers tug at her pubes, the hair is thinner now, wiry, each tug pulling at the skin and revealing her clitoris to new angles of Seven’s press.

Barb, turns over and up onto her hands and knees. Lubricant is spread over the phallus and with wet fingers, her vagina is opened and the phallus inserted. Muscles now clenching, every part of it reaches her; the edge, the curve, its expanse. She pushes back on it, willing it to venture further, deeper, fast, faster, faster and slow, slower, slow…er. Wet fingers continue around to her ass, gripping onto and spreading her cheeks, searching inside, the probe carefully slips in and settles, then gently dances alongside the phallus, matching and working alongside its energy. Wet fingers remain on her clitoris, pushing, pressing and tickling.

With momentum gathering, her skin pulses and reddens, blood pumping, huffing, pausing, breath breathing, everything suddenly moving in and out all at once——–Barb’s throaty exhale starts to tap——–and a light-ness begins to occur——–Barb’s weight is unlocked and with every exhale she rises another breath-edge from the bed. It is from above, squinting, she sees the back of her head, her own soft body, glossy, glinting, pumping and rolling with pleasure. She rests here for a moment, marvelling at herself and musing, “What if this energy could be harnessed? What could it animate, energize, fuel? Surely the emissions would be safer than those we currently use for this purpose?” Then swiftly and intensely, her breath acutely rises into an airy gasp and she is plopped onto the sheets.

Barb lays on her side for a moment, sexy and sated. Looking down at her body, glistening with lube and sweat she acknowledges her knees, red and humming. She reaches down to remove the buzzing vibrator – already mostly pushed from her vagina, tossing it on the bed and then reaches around to remove the slick dildo from her ass, placing it on a tissue to rinse in the morning.

Categories
Critique

Crit pics

Draft (Peri-Menopause)

Wrapping paper, gouache, ink, the height at which my vagina exists from the earth, standard bathroom mirror height, photographic print (Vaseline, mirror) Vagisil branding, cotton towel, heated towel rack, heat, bath mats, dowel, cotton underwear, St John’s Wort (glycerine capsule), soap dish, looping ambient clothes dryer sounds.

Categories
Reference Studio

Crit Notes

An evolving list on what might happen in Fridays Crit:

  • Location = Garage (gallery-like)?
  • A tiled wall drawing – from ceiling to vagina height. White tile.
  • The mirror-portrait print hanging on the tiled wall at mirror height. Maybe covered in Vaseline?
  • The Vagisil print towel on a free standing heated towel rack, heat turned on.
  • A row of bath mats – with a lump running through them.
  • St. John’s Wort dyed underwear on bath mat as if just removed and dropped.
  • Shower sounds looping.
Categories
Studio

Yep, a new studio

As of Saturday I will have moved 7 times since August 15th. Since beginning my MFA that’s 5 Studio Bathrooms.

The latest bathroom comes with a review (from a previous tenant) that expressed disgust and anger at the cleanliness of the bathroom curtain. I was going to post an excerpt here, but the landlord deleted it. It was a pretty damning review. So anyway, I made a new curtain. It’s constructed with water soluble paper, cotton and glass beads from the local dollar store. Here it is in action.

I’ve also been making a looping drawing. It’s made with an air soluble ink, that fades within 24 hours, leaving a clean, blank page.

Categories
Studio

Another studio

I’ve been testing out a few things in my (new) bathroom studio. The first image is a drawing made with St John’s Wort flower mixed with water and painted using a watercolour brush – I don’t love this or anything. Just wanted to make it so I could take it off the To Do list 🙂 It smells really bad, sort of like dirt and cereal. Ew.

These drawings are much more interesting to me – they’re made on water soluble paper. The first is a drawing that I often repeat in-between bigger sculpture or installation projects. It’s kind of just a meditation drawing that really functions as a place holder. The second is a rubbing of the bathroom wall of my new accommodation (moving again on Sunday). A frottage 🙂

Here’s what happened next…

Categories
Reference Studio

To do

I am feeling icky. I was having hot flushes during class yesterday and it completely undermined and uncentered me. I couldn’t think or focus or contribute. It feels cruel. And personal. A personal attack by my body, on my body.

I’m really struggling to be focused on my work. The last few years have been spent thinking about other peoples work (in working in a gallery) and I’ve been so excited to work on my own practice again. But I feel myself getting distracted by my current housing situation (being in visa limbo and having my studio tools and materials in storage) and what should be minor administrative tasks. Gotta keep trying to push through it – what’s the point otherwise? Just feeling so icky and available to distraction!

I’m going to expand my Materials of Menopause/Peri Menopause notes here with a few ideas on how to play with these materials. Usually this would occur on the walls of my studio. I don’t know if I’ll action these items (and I have a supply of some of these things in my stored studio – so don’t want to re-purchase), but the list feels helpful. I might edit and add in pics later if I make anything of note.

Also. I’m not sure where this is going or what I want to say about Menopause/Peri Menopause, if anything. It just feels pertinent to explore as a theme as it is so front of mind for me right now.

St Johns Wort

  • Use the powder from a capsule to mix into a watercolor paint. will it be sepia in colour? Paint a room. Paint a wall. Paint the image of the capsule? Paint a St Johns Wort flower? Paint the bottle. Paint a self portrait? Paint a hot flush self portrait? Why?
  • Research the scent of the flower, reproduce.
  • Research the dangers of use. Paint? Expand the dangers into a sensory installation.
  • Grow. Grow in gallery space? Grow in panty liner?

PH balancing soaps

  • Bad raps on scented vagina washes. What ingredients are medically required and what is filler? Ingredient research.
  • Do people who undertake gender confirmation or re-assignment surgery get BV? What products would they use? Research. What other problems might exist in a constructed or rearranged (are those words offensive?) vagina? Other bacterias? Research.
  • Sex that is orgasmic releases hormones that unbalance PH, resulting in BV (requiring medical attention or PH balancing soaps). Semen also unbalances. Adding orgasms as a material to this list.
  • Bacterial Vaginosis. What does it smell like? Day old steamed broccoli? Make scent? Make paint? Are there similar biological elements between broccoli and BV? Research.

Panty Liners

  • Yuck. Always wet. Not always right size, never fit in underwear. Crease and bunch up. Thinking of a work I proposed but never made where the floor of the space has a bump or crease, just raised enough to irritate, but not enough to trip.
  • Design yuck.
  • Packaging yuck.
  • Hate them. Can’t make myself think about them too much. Should I?

Spare Underwear

  • Prefer cotton, gentle on genitals. Spares are an alternate to panty liners. What other materials might be gentle on genitals? What is the history of underpants? Research.
  • Could be a base for a work – like a canvas. Un-pick seams, separate. Examine different shapes. Use gesso or a stiffener to turn hard (and dry). Dye with St Johns Wort. Use as a hanging device?
  • Dirty underwear as a material? Scent. Too obvi?

Hormones

  • Not easily monitored. Intangible within the body without a blood test. So sneaky. Insidious. Surprised by them ALL THE TIME. No way to prove that day-to-day erratic behavior or thought is caused by them. What is another thing that functions in this way? Covid 19? CO2 poisoning? Depression. Are there any positive insidious things? Love? Lust?
  • What could the layout of an installation be that acts in an equally insidious way? Is the work there, but not viewable? Does it jump out and frighten you? Do you think it is one thing and then it is another? Trickery. Magic.

Hot flushes/heat

  • Suddenly rises up. Stings the skin. Radiating. Some kind of heat based work that rises from the floor or is sudden. Under floor heating turned right up. Underfloor heating cast into vases or lamp bases (would have to be plaster or something that does not need to be fired). Viewer has to touch to experience. Not Covid 19 safe. Entire walls? Handrails, handles?
  • Weighted and heated blankets. Not comfortable, but rather heavy and bothersome. Dead weight.
  • What is the material that is in those hand warmers you can buy at the chemist? Research.

Hair or Loss of Hair

  • Mimic baldness. Lots of info (marks or objects) then sudden pauses.
  • Self conscious. Hair conscious. What are the hairsyles of menopausal or thin haired women? Drawings. Helmet style.

Karen

  • Karen is awful. But I must admit I feel some affinity to the rage she experiences – if it is hormone driven and not just an evil she possesses. I see that awfulness in myself sometimes. I hope my Karen is never caught on camera. But if she was, this could be material for demonstrating menopause.

Derision

  • The menopausal woman is hated. What are the materials of hatred? Not only is she an angry Karen, she is also emotionally unstable, ugly (FUPA), dry and dumb. And infertile. WHY?

Infertility

  • You only reach Menopause when you have ceased to mensturate for 12 months. Anything that occurs before that is considered Peri Menopause (this includes all of the symptoms that are usually associated with Menopause – hot flushes etc).
  • Sometimes when I haven’t menstruated for a while – maybe like 3 months, a thought starts to creep into my head that I could be pregnant. This would be impossible as I’m missing some of interior body parts that could make this a reality. Regardless, I buy a test. It is a feeling of hope and hurt that occurs when I’m waiting for the results. You know why I would hope. The hurt comes from so many things. One is that I would likely have to abort the child – due to health concerns. How could I? How could I not? What is this the word for simultaneous hope-hurt and how could this tension be demonstrated or simulated in a visual or experiential context? Is it something that is both beautiful and grotesque? What is that? A beautiful, mutilated, deceased body? BDSM?

Onset of physical unattractiveness

  • FUPA, masculine features, loss of hair or growing in unusual places, looking more masculine (more testosterone).

Dryness

  • Opposite to WAP. What is the middle aged version of WAP? Who sings it? In Canada, maybe Melissa Etheridge? What are the words. Does it include lube? Could be celebrated in the same way?

Orgasms

  • A spiritual experience. Falling into the category of epistemologies? A magic. Sublime. What can be done there at the top of an orgasm? World peace?
  • How can it be defined outside of cliches?
  • Simulated orgasm. Poppers. Cocaine feels like pre-orgasm.
  • The downsides. Releases hormones that give me hot flushes. Can expedite menstruation.

And

Things that are not dildos, that are used as dildos.

  • Emergency dildos. Crisis. Research. Meagan used an aerosol deodorant bottle. I was scared it would explode inside of her – they should only be stored at a low temperature. Vaginas are hot.

What does it look like inside my body? Like the insides of my mouth?

Categories
Studio

Notes

What are the materials of menopause/peri-menopause?

  • St Johns Wort
  • PH balancing soaps
  • Panty Liners
  • Spare Underwear
  • Pro Biotics
  • Hormones
  • Hot flushes/heat
  • Hair or Loss of Hair
  • Karen
  • Derision
  • Emotional Instability
  • Infertility
  • Onset of physical unattractiveness
  • Dryness

Cast clots into tea candle sized candles.

  • Spread out in space.
  • Grid or random?
  • Burn.
  • Mini soaps?

Number of menstral days/cycles as a drawing.

  • On water soluble paper.
  • Drown.
  • Film drowning?
  • What does the drawing look like?

A domestic window that has a frame that extends into the room.

  • Extended frame is same height, same length as original.
  • Filled with sheer curtaining.
  • Metal frame? Very heavy

A space that is filled with a very discreet, low edged pool of water.

  • Edge to edge.
  • Water level low.
  • It wont get you get wet, unless you splash it.
  • Made of medical or kitchen grade stainless steel.
  • Does the water have a scent?

What are the materials of my culture?

  • Can I ethically adopt the materials of culture in which I am physically located?

Categories
Studio

Studio Tests

I’ve been testing a few things out in the bathroom studio. These are the things that were on my To Do list – but I’m not in love with them. I’ve needed to make them to to make space for the next layer of thought.

To Do list

  • A line that marks where my vagina is in the shower
  • Soap covered shower screen, with finger and hand markings
  • A foggy, vaseline reflection of my body
  • A soap covered mirror. To wash your hands, use the mirror

I’m limited to the materials I have at hand and cannot accumulate any materials that cannot travel on a plane. Everything must be temporary as my accommodation is temporary. These were made with Crayola bath soaps, crayons and paint.

Categories
Studio

A Studio

I’m currently living in temporary accommodation whilst I await study permit processing. The bathroom of this accommodation has become a stand in for my studio. It has a tiled ceiling.

I have always been in love with the idea of making work only to be viewed in bathrooms. It is a place where we can be most free; here our bodies freely perform necessary biological actions and it is in this location that we are free to touch, examine and monitor every detail of our bodies.

Some things to consider:

  • Privacy (bathroom privilege – who has one?)
  • The Western bathroom. Research.
  • Other locations for complete body freedom? The ocean? Alternates to (Western) bathrooms.
  • What are the actions that are performed in a bathroom?
  • Design. Desire. Fetish.
  • Commodifying of essential bodily functions and needs.

(Sensitive content warning) An article about Trough Man