Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lost In Translation (Solo Un Po')

Today, Dagheisha, a self-described 'metal hardcore punk webzine', published an Italian translation of an interview with me conducted by a young writer (and one of my Facebook friends), Lorenzo Becciani. The translation is somewhat inexact so I thought I would re-publish the original English version here.
How did you become one of the Asia-Pacific region's most controversial female artists?
By rejecting the traditional gallery system and creating an independent, unconstrained career using the internet to distribute my art, ideas and opinons. The internet has also enabled people to gain a better understanding of what I am trying to achieve in my art and as a result, it is taken a great deal more seriously.
What's the most difficult aspect of being a photographer?
I don't really have a firm grasp of the technical aspects. Even when using 35mm film, I point and shoot on auto'. I don't regard my work in the medium as central to my art: it's primarily a means to explore ideas, to record, to document. I'm rarely conscious of formal composition. I just try to fit information within the frame.
What about painting?
Painting is an emotional process. I always reach a point where I want to destroy each work, but I've learned to put it aside so I don't. The ones I hate the most often turn out to be the best. That said, I am very confident of my technical skills, especially when it comes to enamel.
What's your relationship with censorship?
I think it's the role of the artist to question, test and challenge boundaries, to upset the status quo. Which means I am always at odds with censorship.
What do you aim to create with your images?
I aim to create images to which there is a duality, a conflict, in the viewer's response. They're accessible – and even, at first, reassuring or titillating – but they also cause one to question, to feel some discomfort.
What kind of role does religion play for you and for your art?
I am not religious at all but I'm fascinated by the way ritual is used – and abused – to create meaning and emotion. I am also fascinated by the way iconography is used a little like brand communication by various religions.
What is your definition of success as an artist?
Making art consistently and taking risks, while rigorously exploring ideas – and developing skills. That said, I'm happy to make very good money as an artist and I no longer have to struggle to gain attention for my work.
Please introduce the Flesh Eaters and PORNO projects for our readers.
The Flesh Eaters are a recent series of diaristic pen-and-ink drawings that describe, in pared-down but explicit line-work, intense sexual encounters wthin which 'normal' genderal roles are obscured or transgressed and a hunger for more sensation veers towards violence. I can't help but see the drawings as fragments of a horror story: sex as it might be for predatory, devouring zombies – sex as it has been for me.
PORNO was driven by a perspective that porn's creepy sensibility has insinuated itself into every aspect of popular culture, from the fashion photographs of Terry Richardson to the pop star, Rihanna's robotic S&M stage persona. Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian have proved that, these days, homespun porn can help rather than hinder a girl's career and if you have a celebrity partner, you can even profit from it. With the proliferation of more sophisticated home media and easy-to-use applications, many have experimented with producing it themselves.
PORNO was a series of photographs others and I took of themselves and me having sex. I 'curated' these images, refining and reprinting them, 'appropriating' them to form part of my own critical experience of the new porno’ aesthetic. The intention wasn't to pander to prurience but rather to explore contemporary socio-sexual impulses.
We're a music webzine and your attitude is really dark and punk. We're curious about your musical tastes.
My tastes are pretty broad but my favourites are industrial, hip hop and rap, Ali Farka Touré, some of the recent African collaborations of drummer Jack DeJohnette and, less predictably, the music of film director Vincent Gallo.
Who's your favourite model to work with?
Oh, me, by far. Everyone has a line they won't cross as I am photographing or drawing them. I don't. I'll do almost anything.
How would you introduce Australia to someone who has never visited it?
It's vast. The cities are mostly suburbs. Sport is valued highly, culture is not.
Australians are increasingly conservative. Our internet censorship laws are among the most restrictive in the Western world, but no-one's bothered to enforce them (yet). Australians are unreasonably suspicious of sex and sexual desire: pornographic photographs of women with an A breast cup size – even if they're in their late 20s – are banned for "encouraging pedophilia".
You've a simply lovely blog. How do you judge the obscure world of internet?
I think the internet is a way to reach people directly by bypassing traditional systems and power structures. However we have to strenuously guard and defend the freedoms it has given us artists.
What do you want to express with An Artist's Notebook on Tumblr?
I want to fuck with my online persona as well as the commonplace notions of who and what an artist is. I'm interested in the way we read images online and interpret our version of 'truth' from them. You can read more about the ideas behind it here.

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