Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sinners As Saints

A lot of my work is preoccupied with sexual identity. Ever since I was a teenager, I've been unsettled by the way images and attitudes from entertainment and advertising media insinuate themselves into the way we shape this identity.
Sex is still one of the last effective forms of subversion, despite (or, maybe, because of) its slick ubiquity in our consumer-driven, image-conscious culture. In the past, women used sex as a defensive weapon against men who held power over them. In the future, women will no longer need men for either bonking or breeding. In the meantime, images of sex – what used to be thought of as pornography, a term that's becoming increasingly irrelevant as it turns into just another niche of acceptable suburban distraction, like smoking dope or reading trashy celebrity gossip – have become expressions of an ambiguous, morally unresolved freedom.
Being involved in real pornography is an acceptable tactic for a 21st century feminist. The ideas of women like Tristan Taormina and Violet Blue are a hell of a lot more confronting and original than those of glossy exhibitionists such as Tracey Emin or Sam Taylor-Wood.
One of the handful of solo shows I am doing over the next 18 months is a A New Canon Of 21st Century Saints. It opens at Melbourne Art Rooms on St. Valentines Day, February 14th, 2009 – a few months after my Dangerous Career Babes launch party at Superdeluxe in Tokyo.
My 21st century saints are pornstars representing a broad spectrum of race, creed and sexual inclination. They're portrayed as the personae they adopt for public consumption, enhanced by the vivid colours, slick surface finish and sheer massiveness – some works will be as much as three metres high – of what some art critics call Shock Pop. They form the canon (with an accompanying liturgy) of the
spiritually sterile cult of porno' chic and come complete with traditional, saint-related trappings, including statuary, relics, scapulars, and votive offerings: think of it as the merchandise of modern organized religion.
Nominating new and unlikely saints for our times is an ideal way for me not only to trace – and also, in some way, celebrate – the disorienting intersection of sexual identity, perversion, political subversion and feminism. It is also an opportunity to offer a critique of the whole concept of sainthood and our enduring reverence for it.
Above: St. Alexis of Tijuana, 2008, study sketch for oil painting, acrylic on paper, 30cms x 20cms

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

talk about flogging a dead horse..i hate to say it hazel but your work is becoming mundane,over-thought and under-worked..im actually offended this is considered art.

julian c. said...

one thing that comes across in every entry of this blog is the sense of an artist who is unsatisfied to just rest on what she's done before and is being genuine and fearless not only in trying new things – look at her watercolour works and photography! – even as she looks for new directions and media in which to take her older enamel painting.

there's no rule that says every line of investigation has to be successful or even satisfying – or even, ultimately, art. and given that you made your comments anonymously – and come across sounding like someone she knows with an old axe to grind – how is one to supposed to judge whether what you consider art is worth bothering about anyway? as for you being offended, well, people have felt the same way about everyone from Caravaggio to Koons, so maybe Dooney's onto something.

Anonymous said...

Go Julian. How dead is your horse anonymous?? Shame on you.
Hazel, your works are amazing!!

Anonymous said...

You hate to say it, so why bother. I'm offended that you still have the right to a comment.

Anonymous said...

So Julian, my comment is only valid if Im "somebody"?..in actual fact i have no axe to grind and was actually quite proud of the statement Hazel made...the first time.

julian c. said...

why listen to anyone who makes such comments under the cloak of anonymity? you ask if your comments are valid – I think you mean 'valued' – if you're a 'somebody'? the question doesn't even deserve an answer because by making your comments anonymously, you elected to be a 'nobody' – and your criticism dismissed as under-thought, facile (and perhaps even envious) bitchiness.

Hazel Dooney said...

And with that, this topic is now closed to further comment.