This commissioned performance work for the Museum of Anthropology is developing rapidly. Here are my notes on its progress.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Of who I am
What defines my edges?
Can I know myself by questioning others about who I am?
Body versus Soul?
Draw a diagram of the Soul inside the box of who I am
Build it up with words and lines
Build a ‘Map’ around me of my belongings?
Questioning & sketching...
Seeding thoughts of personal change...
This is Photo Therapy?
Build up a collage of who I am thru words written live in drawing program plus video captures of my hand or parts of my body plus voice recordings of the things other people say about me...
I have created an Online Questionnaire and sent it to 60 people that I know. Some are old friends. Some are new friends. Some are friends of my parents and family.
Who am I?
What do I look like?
Describe something you like about me
Describe something you don’t like about me
What do you think I could do to improve myself?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Use rolling cart and floor area
Use photo-therapy approach
WHO AM I? Why am I haunted by this?
Use old photos of me interspersed with new audio recordings from the questionnaire.
Overdraw using my iPOD touch, and lead people into my life.
Wear all black with black silk balaclava.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I pulled out my rolling medical cart... and reassembled it. Now I have added a camera and the projector to it as well as both computers, the laptop and the tower. It feels amazing. I love it. Now what to do with it?
The Technology Cart has become my technological body... a rolling externalized manifestation of my thoughts, feelings and reactions. It can hold memories, ideas, imagery, and provoke actions, and create filmic responses.
In order to emphasize this externalization of my inner self, I have the notion to dress all in black and wear a black silk balaclava mask to hide my physical body, except for my eyes (the proverbial “window to the soul”? Is that too cliche?).
I roll the cart through the museum and react to people, objects, artifacts....
I present a self-portrait through music and voices, photographs and live video, text and live drawing/paintings...
The Technology Cart doesn’t have a name yet so I challenge the other artists involved in the 3 day event, to each come up with a name for it. Best name wins a case of beer. :)
This is what I will talk about for my public lecture. All my life I have been fascinated with the journey of life and with the choices inherent at every step that we take along the road towards death. Aware of a limited life span, I have felt a tugging urgency to choose well. But how do I know if I am choosing well? What happens if I choose poorly? What I choose now determines my future life. Is not a person’s life their single-most important creation? What of success? What of failure?
As an artist, these thoughts and feelings have informed all my work deeply, inciting a personal quest that has led me to examine issues of ‘deviance’, religion, spirituality, resilience and the outcast life. To choose the safest path isn’t necessarily choosing the highest path. To choose outside the norm requires courage, determination and self confidence.
Another question arises for me. When is a choice not a choice? For instance, can I choose my sexual preference? Can I choose not to make art?
One thing is sure. I can only choose for myself, not for others.
In the early 90’s I worked mainly with the photographic medium, exploring the lives of people that I lived among; initially the intense hard-core SM and queer fetish communities of London, Vancouver and San Francisco. I had popular success with these images and was invited to direct music videos in the mid-90’s. This introduced me to the mediums of film and video. In the late 90‘s, having read about Photo Therapy in a book by Judy Weiser, I began hybridizing the therapeutic techniques described by her into my own artistic process, shifting my approach to the intense community portraits of self-mutilated angels, neotribal rituals, body piercing and sado-masochistic sexual relationships. I then began to add sound and video to my installation designs.
These projects transformed into what I am now calling Therapeutic Interpretive Biographies. These photographic (and video and audio) explorations of the lives of people that I know, are intended for exhibition by both them and I, and therefore are classifiable as art.
At the end of 1999, I fell into a deep emotional crisis triggered by the collapse of an ill-funded project and the embezzlement/misspending of project funds by someone that I thought was a friend. He was mentoring me in documentary film-making but spent all the money and kept stringing me along. Nothing ever got finished. In fact the circumstances would lead me to the edge of a metaphorical cliff. Unable to finish the film without him, and with the money gone, I had to return the project to its owners and admit defeat. Failure. Shame. My mentoring ‘friend’ had used my project money for his own expenses and the collapse of the project destroyed my relationship with the New York ‘client’ who was also a good friend, and whom I loved deeply. I will likely never know if she believed my explanation.
Around that same time I met a young woman living fiercely free. She moved into my life with the force of a hammer-to-the-anvil. In financial uncertainty, and in a state of deepening self-doubt I spiraled further and further away from normalcy. Within a month I had fallen under her influence completely. At that point I walked out of my life and onto the streets with her on a quest that would last almost a year. Before leaving, I returned the negatives and tape media from many earlier projects to the people involved, and then I threw my own remaining negatives into a dumpster. I took off the label of my name, cast away all my belongings and my personal history and walked out of my front door with her.
10 years later I sit here in Vancouver, realizing that this performance piece includes that journey, of identity and loss. I realize that I still struggle with identity and with choice. I am still healing from the shock of choosing poorly. I see a string of poor choices stretching out behind me. All of this has to make it’s way into this work somehow. Into the performance, the photography, the writing, the drawings... into the backbone of the whole damn thing.