Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No More Fingers In The Dyke, Final Part

When I try to make art to please someone else, it always fails. The pressure of seeking approval destroys anything it could have been. The only way I can make art is to do what I want and to explore the ideas that interest me. I can't fake it.
I can't fake who I am either.
When I decided I wanted to express my long-repressed sexuality, this fed into my art and for a while, it got me branded – wrongly – as an erotic artist. But I never really thought of myself as an anything other than political, trying to subvert sexual identity and the mixed perceptions of post-feminist women's roles spawned by advertising and 'old' mass media to further excite a consumerist culture.
Sex is still a political matter and it still has the power to subvert and confront. That's why governments waste so much time trying to control it. In Australia, the Rudd government's determination to filter sexual content from the web or to whip the art establishment into line with Rudd's own middle-class, middle-brow Christian moral standards is an example. And before you argue that his efforts are about protecting us all from child porn', remember that most child porn isn't even on the web. It's distributed anonymously via P2P file transfers (outside the control of Rudd's proposed filters) or stored in email accounts to which passwords are shared. Filtering the web about controlling our flow of information and experience not about protecting children.
Conservative moralists always target sex first. This is entirely political: after all, it appeals to the prurient interest of the mass, the unindividualised 'old' media audience. Depicting even 'straight' sexual acts between consenting adults is taboo while acknowledging (let alone practicing) 'perversions' Рlike fisting Рis akin to a guerilla attack. Even with modern, fetishistic subcultures there are protocols, rules of misbehaviour, if you like: expressing oneself outside of them can be construed within them as an act of social or political revisionism. I'm not your proto-typical feminist dyke or nor am I a partner-swapping 'swinger' of suburban clich̩: my relationship is 'flexible' but not 'open', other than to shared experiences. In other words, I set my own terms.
Mostly, I've used only myself as an object in my work because I've had ethical problems with objectifying someone else, especially another woman. Women are objectified in millions of ways – by men, by each other, and by themselves. In the sexual encounters I've had with two partners, the other woman has nearly always been an object; I'm respectful of her but unemotional about her. In some ways, the experience is akin to creating an artwork: physically and imaginatively intense but with a degree of detachment, of forensic observation. (That said, I still surrender myself completely to a really good fuck.)
My choices in life and work are all intricately connected. They're driven by forensic self-analysis and a desire to re-programme 'the norm. We tend to become what we construct – or allow others to construct – in terms of ideas, opinions, beliefs or ethics – around us. Our successes and failures are defined by ourselves and others within these conceptual structures but for that reason alone, we shouldn't ever let them become too fixed or permanent. They tend to limit our freedom or, worse, become places for us to hide, even from ourselves.
If the artist has just one role it is to test these structures, to stress them, and from time to time, to tear them down so new ones can take their place.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to you Hazel. It is so hard trying to live authentically, especially those who seem to be neither fish nor fowl. Everyone wants to polarize you to fit their model so you can line up under their banner and not the opposing side who represent that feared "otherness".
If you feel more drawn to one side than the other, it's okay, just be authentically you. Your anger for the suffering and grief for trying to become what others wanted you to be is valid. Stay away from anyone who hurts you until the wounds are sufficiently healed and refuse to give them the power to hurt you if you allow them in your life again. Live for yourself now and you can be generous in return as you heal. It will be your turn to nurture and foster others someday.

Anonymous said...

hazel--i appreciate all that you've said. your willingness to come clean will stand you in good stead personally and artistically. all the best/leigh wt

lz said...

You GO, girl. very few other 'successful' artists or other public personalities would dare put it out there in the way you have in these entries. respect.

Monique said...

wow - what an amazing purge, does it feel better to get it out? You're so fearless.. I dig that so much. I liked the part about finding a man who accepts or accepted you for who you are.. I don't know if you're still together or not. I should be so fortunate to have a ground as such grace my own life.

Also, for you to give as much merit as you do to your father and what he thinks, you must love him a lot. I have daddy issues to too some extent, but anymore it doesn't matter. I mean his life is his own as mine is to me.

Anonymous said...

you only have to read this to get an idea of what hazel's on about: http://www.smh.com.au/national/straight-and-narrow-20090226-8j9y.html

Dave said...

I don't have the words to tell how you moved me with this series. It's like talking with a very old friend, in a love seat, late at night after just enough rum and coke to let it go, cuddling her as she bares her soul. Yet, somehow I don't see you as needing cuddling now. Amazing.