Sunday, September 16, 2012

Show And Tell

Last week I posted a black and white photograph on tumblr of my hands stroking a cock. It provoked a flood of critical emails – unusually, a lot of them from fans of my work.
I've been accused before of using my sexuality to sell my work and myself. Such assertions are easily dismissed: my work sold well long before anyone knew even what I looked like, let alone anything about my life. But this time several men and women whom I know care about my work have expressed 'discomfort' and 'uncertainty' about the degree to which I've 'exposed' myself in this photograph. (Oddly, they didn't say a word when I wrote about my childhood sexual abuse.)
The 450 or so photographs I have posted to In The Studio are an ongoing exploration of one contemporary woman's life as an artist, without the usual fey, girlish jitters. They are unflinchingly candid (and not just in their occasional depiction of sex), reflecting a life-long refusal to draw a line between the personal and the professional. The most explicit images are meant to disturb, to make one pause and think. At the same time, they consciously reference the media-saturated, reality-based, gossip-obsessed age in which we all live and work. Their frankness is what lifts them above mundane documentary and makes them, collectively, a kind of perfomance art.
But there's more to it than that.
Being transparent about my life and work liberates me: it unchains my psyche and my self-expression and enables me to create without boundaries. At the basest level, if I'm willing to show myself fucking or masturbating in life, you can be sure I won't hold anything back when depicting myself – or anyone else – in my art. The photographs enable the viewer to understand what goes into my art, and why. They can glimpse the raw experiences that form the ideas for individual pieces.
Too often, it's mistaken for exhibitionism or narcissism. In every artist, there is an element of both. As I've written before, making art is elementally, egocentric. But I expose myself not to receive flattery (to achieve what psychiatrists term 'narcissistic supply') but to create a connection with those who view my work that's as intimate and as open as possible. Even if, sometimes, it unsettles or upsets them.
Do I still have secrets? Yes. And no, I won't reveal them.

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Don't give it too much thought. Probably just because now you are adding explicit male-sexuality in your work. That bridge isn't crossed on a daily basis in the media.

Moise Levi said...

Ignore the critics, focus on your incredible creativity

Anonymous said...

you are brilliant

Moise Levi said...

Sex desire is the most powerful of human desires.
When driven by this desire, men/women develop keenness of imagination, courage, will-power, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them at other times. So strong and impelling is the desire for sexual contact that men/women freely run the risk of life and reputation to indulge it. When harnessed, and redirected along other lines, this motivating force maintains all of its attributes of keenness of imagination, courage, etc., which may be used as powerful creative forces in literature, art ...
(Napoleon Hill)
PS : Love your work !