Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Photography has always been elemental to my self-expression. When I was young, I used Polaroid snapshots of myself as studies for my early paintings. I drew on them, tracing some parts and inventing others. I cut them up, enlarged them with a photocopier and glued them back together in collages. It wasn't until later that I realised these images documented not only my creative process but my life. I started to photograph my self, my work and my surroundings with more intent, resulting in more intimate images of my life when I wasn't painting – where I slept, what I ate, where I went, who I fucked (as I fucked them). The line between life and work has always been blurry for me but when I started posting this visual narrative online, I realised I was closely interrogating the meaning (and necessity) of privacy in an age in which we habitually, compulsively share our lives online – while incautiously opening ourselves up to forensic examination by individuals, corporations andd governments.I took the idea of transparency to its extreme in my first (and, so far, only) photographic exhibition, four years ago. Titled PORNO, I curated a few dozen black and white and colour images, made by myself and others, of random sexual partners and sex acts. The exhibition was widely misunderstood: some thought I was turning my hand to porn, while others thought it was a sort of feminist confession. Either way, it was thought by many that I had laid myself too bare. I had – but also, I had not. Apparent candour can be a way to misdirect, to conceal. Photographs mislead becasue we assume they are 'real' and in the case of PORNO, there was unquestionably the sense of me sharing more of myself than many thought possible or acceptable. And yet nearly every assumption made by those who viewed (and bought) the PORNO images was wrong.Nowadays, my photographic efforts are curated for an online audience, in different collections. In The Studio is intended simply as a candid, fragmented, and not always (hardly ever) chronological documentary of my life, which, as the title suggests, revolves around my work. As my work and life are entangled, it is also (not always intentionally) revelatory and intimate. There are neither dates nor captions and the viewer is left to piece together clues about what, and sometimes where and with whom, I am up to. Venus In Hell is an attempt to create a film noir in a series of still lives, resulting in a disjointed and disorienting narrative that mashes reality with fiction. All the images were shot with an iPhone, using a popular two-dollar app'. Collaborating with an anonymus friend, I posted one image a day for a hundred days, without any editorial plan or 'script'. I just shot what happened to be around me, wherever I happened to be, not thinking too deeply about the result. Magdalene's Lament is still developing. I'm not sure yet what it's 'about'. I've used words in my watercolour paintings for around six years. Now I have excerpted passages from my diaries and transcribed them on my own and others' bodies (or on prosthetic versions of them) to create a 'static' but sexually graphic and violent performance piece that maps the messy, obsessive neediness and violent longing that lurk in the shadowy recesses of female desire. I am not a photographer. However, as an artist, I use whatever media best suit what I have to express. And in a world in which random series of photographic images are curated by hundreds of thousands of individuals online and in a sense are codified to become not just a new language but the structure of an alternative identity, it's important that I continue to experiment with my cameras.