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' – like fisting – is 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 cliché: 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.