Thursday, July 17, 2008

Home Made

Given the last minute offer from MARS to exhibit my photography, I've been evolving the underlying ideas for the show even as I sift through the images I might want to use. I guess it was no surprise that a concept for it finally fell into place only three nights ago.
My large, glossy, enamel paintings have always reflected and commented upon the way women are portrayed in advertising and entertainment media – even, most recently, in video games and toys. I've also been intrigued by the way young women exploit themselves these days, using digital video and Web 2.0 to gain a measure of unsubtle notoriety. Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian (NSFW) have proved that homespun porn can help rather than hinder a girl's career and if you have a celebrity partner, you can even profit from it.
In many ways, porn's creepy sensibility has insinuated itself into every aspect of popular culture, from the fashion photographs (NSFW) of Terry Richardson to Rihanna's robotic S&M stage persona. In so doing, hardcore porn has achieved some legitimacy and through the internet, has found its way into the hands of millions of middle-class suburbanites who might never have risked a foray into an actual 'adult store' to buy it over the counter. With the proliferation of more sophisticated home media and simple editing applications, many have experimented with producing it themselves.
As I edit the various photographs I've taken as references for my recent, sexually graphic watercolours, I've grown more curious about the images others have made of themselves, their lovers and their own sexual acts. I've asked close friends if they'd allow me to view theirs. Most have agreed. I've decided to 'curate' these images and include them in my show – or, more exactly, refine and reprint them and in so doing, appropriate them to form part of my own narrative.
The colour in these amateur images is often garish and the compositions crude but there is within many of them not just an elemental tension but also a sadness, as if these photographs are a failed attempt to locate some deeper truth about their subjects – now stripped naked, staring blankly at the camera, or fucking.
In a sense, this collection of images is emerging as my first truly objective, 'conceptual' work as an artist. Parodoxically, it will probably be my most intimate.


dyls said...

hi hazel,
i heard you on abc tonight and i have a couple of questions:
1)you made a comment about your exhibition being more real than porn (i may have misheard) but how is it more real? because you were there?
2) don't you think that porn, and to some extent advertising, media, film, television, rather than simply being a representation of something (sexism, objectivity, fetishism, etc) actually are those things? and therefore your art work in some ways taken outside the context of a gallery actually perpetuates some of those things? as much as taking porn out of the context of a club and putting it in a gallery makes it art?
3) is intent enough to distinguish pieces of work (porn vs. art)?
good luck with the exhibition, i'll try to get along! D

Hazel Dooney said...

Hi dyls,

Thank you for your good wishes for my upcoming exhibition.

In answer to your questions...

re: 1) In the interview, I said my exhibition is more real that porn, as in it was genuine. It is not scripted, it is not about prurience or exhibitionism. It IS about intimacy, and an exploration of female desire. I didn't really get a lot of time to explain the history of my work with photography it in detail, except that some images were taken by me, some of me, some by and of others (appropriated in the same way as Richard Prince appropriates, except I have everyone's permission).

re: 2) I don't believe I said that mainstream media was a representation of anything, but that people accepted and mimicked pornography within it, yet had a problem with sex and pornography in an appropriate context such as when it's shown in a gallery (a place where it is to be thought about, and discussed). I don't believe i made a value judgement on porn, but a number of observations on its influence. Seeing as I don't disagree with it, I don't mind if, in part, I perpetuate it. I am doing so in a way that contains personal expression, and that I believe is dignified both to me, and all involved.

re: 3) I do think that the intent shows through in the body of work, making it different from pornography, which aims to avoid thought, and focus only on the act.