Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pieces Of Myself

Not every interview I do ends up being published. About one in ten is 'spiked' by the editor and never used. At least half are heavily edited between my mouth and the final page (for which, very often, I'm grateful). Some are abbreviated or re-written beyond recognition.
While tidying up my digital archives, this weekend, I came across the transcripts of a handful of interviews I've done over the past year or so. I can't remember who conducted them or what magazines, e-zines or newspapers they were for but I thought I'd choose some of the questions and answers at random and reproduce them here:
A lot of your work is saturated with eroticism. Why?
I don't see my work as erotic, really. It just reflects an aspect of how young women in the developed world see themselves thanks to advertising, entertainment, even commercial pornography. For better or worse, sexuality is always an element of these heavily mediated choices of identity.
Do you think more and more contemporary art appears to be preoccupied with sex?
No. I think there's always been both sexuality and sensuality in art. It's as visible in the works of Michaelangelo as it is in those of Picasso or Modigliani. However, these days, we don't have the same social, religious or gender constraints. We're able to delve more deeply and frankly, creating art that is more explicit, darker and in my case, confessional and/or critical.
How do viewers react to seeing your work for the first time in a gallery?
Reaction is always, umm, unsettled. My works are as immediately accessible as advertising or entertainment but once a viewer spends some time with them, they realise that there's more going on than they'd thought, that what they're looking at is neither simple nor 'safe'.
A lot of my work exploits the seductive but dulling effect of highly repetitious imagery. One of the more interesting aspects of what I am doing in serial works like Precious Blood is show that this repetition is actually quite ancient. The Catholic Church has used it for nearly 2,000 years to convey notions of female purity and piousness. Look at how similar images of the Virgin Mary are, as well as images of popular saints. Their effect has been as carefully managed as any advertising campaign.
In PORNO you were both artist and performer. Why did you expose yourself and your reputation as an artist in such a way?
When I first started to experiment with depictions of what the tabloid critics liked to call 'graphic sex', a couple of years ago, I was responding to what I saw as consumer culture not just encouraging but actually empowering young women to exploit their sexuality – without any fear of public disapproval (quite the opposite!) – in exchange for a measure of celebrity.
I'd found some other female artists' experiments with elements of softcore porn' – from Sam Taylor-Wood's and Vanessa Beecroft's video performance pieces to Ghada Amer's needlework – just a little too prissy and detached to be interesting. So I became, for a brief while, producer, performer and consumer. In other words, I decided to involve myself completely.
After all, I'm an artist not an academic – I'm meant to be subjective.

1 comment:

ArneA said...

Just found your blog and became extremely intrigued. Wow!
Fantastic art works and an extraordinary development through the years.
Have also been reading some of the links initiated through your posts, and see it quite natural that you have reached your present level of famousness.
Agree 100% with your statements through this interview.
Will follow you works in the future.