Wow, That’s A Lot

Just a list of the on-going projects:

  • self portrait collages
  • printing on razor blades
  • collecting and photographing sheets
  • pubic hair photographs
  • televisions and bears
  • embroidery on object photos

I don’t necessarily see this as an issue, considering each project has processing time usually exceeds the two weeks between critiques. For example, last week I spent most of my free time collecting CRT televisions (and I went to a lot of sketchy flea markets to find them…) I get to start filming the material to put on said televisions this weekend, since I needed to scout for places and am taking a trip to Michigan to do said filming. So while I prepare and plan for that project, I can work on things like printing on razor blades or photographing sheets.

The other thing is, this work is difficult. After spending hours looking up pedophiles on the sex registry, I wanted a drink. Hanging sheets and going up and down a ladder to do so is physically taxing and takes a while. Sometimes, your body and mind just needs a break. For me, this means working on another rendering of my ideas.

So I’ve been printing on razor blades. Initially, I thought I wanted to print the mug shots of sex offenders onto them, but I thought about it some more and thought I would also try houses. Using the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, I looked up the names of the offenders living five miles from my childhood home. The number: 1157. Which is rather terrifying. But anyway, I was able to get the addresses of these people, and I plugged them in to google maps and got “streetview” images of their homes, which I then took screen shots of.

Since my work is also talking about violation, I’m thinking that my methods of locating these people is a violation in some way. On the flip side, I have access to their addresses and what their houses look like because of technology. It’s a weird thing to think about, and I’m still sorting through it, but yeah. It’s a little creepy I can do all of this.

Right now the plan is to get screenshots of all 1157 sex offender’s houses, to print on razor blades. I think this speaks to the obsessive nature of my work. I’m also thinking from a parental perspective, and how dangerous it may feel to be surrounded by so many offenders while trying to raise a child. This sort of anxiety can be represented with the materiality of the object and the volume of them. This is what 1157 razor blades looks like:

That’s a lot of potential for danger. It also speaks to the anxiety survivors may feel, where hypervigilance is all too real and normal, everyday things may seem like a threat.

I’m a fan of working with physical objects as a compliment to my photographic practice. I think I’m on my way to making my work more universal.


Obsessed with Obsession

My head is buzzing with ideas. I’ve been thinking a lot about Christian Boltanski, Ann Hamilton, and Mike Kelley, and how their work has an obsessive nature to it, and how my work does, too. Looking back on my work from undergrad, I was obsessed with my childhood home. I made many bodies of work about it, and each body of work was a series. My brain can’t help but work in multiples, and I have so many ideas, obsession just makes sense.

Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, Mike Kelley

City 0000, Mike Kelley

I’m obsessed with obsession.

Right now I have ideas for pieces, and each piece is going to take a lot of time and collecting. These past two weeks I’ve been gathering VHS tapes of movies about bears, and CRT TVs. I’m working on collecting more TVs as well, and then collecting teddy bears. Thing is though, I’m a photographer, so I’m constantly thinking about the relationship of photography to these objects that will be a part of the piece. I’ll be making videos to play on the CRT TVs, but the combination of the TVs, the VHS tapes, the carpet, etc is an installation. I’m starting to play with the idea of fully immersing my viewer in my content, because what I think I want to do is illicit empathy.

Maybe I’m not trying to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse or PTSD. Thing is, people don’t want to talk about this stuff because it’s so painful to think about. But if my art can make them allow themselves to feel something, maybe we can move towards a more open dialogue about this topic. Maybe that’s what I’m after. I’m still figuring it out, but I think I’m getting there.

Another thing I did this week was revisit my self portraits exploring PTSD. I created a few new ones, one digital collage and two that I physically altered. I used a fun little magic trick I learned in fifth grade to create a sort of oil-slick effect, and for another I used a lot of bleach (I can smell it on my hands and no matter how much soap I use, it won’t go away.) For an experiment, I used way too much bleach and failed to rinse it off my print, and I hung it up to dry. When I came back later, the print was gone– the paper was still hanging up, but it was blank. My self portrait was in little flakes on the floor. And, like a true artist, I thought “Maybe I can replicate this and record the ink flaking off the paper?” So typical.

It’s Hard to Explain: Medicated

My plans for the next few weeks are to keep collecting, get in the dark room to expose some images on razor blades, and soak up whatever critique I get this week and from Zanele Muholi next week. Happy Shooting!


Trying to Get My Thoughts Sorted Out

I have to admit, I’ve felt stuck this week. Right now I feel like I’m in a stage of working where I have a good idea of what I’m doing and where I’m going, but what I’m doing is taking so much time it’s hard to have anything to show for critiques. The self-portraits I’m creating take anywhere from 8 hours to 30+ hours, collecting sheets is going to take me years, and the embroidery that I’m doing on photographs also takes a significant amount of time. While I work slowly on these projects, I want to experiment with other things, while sticking to my topic.

So, I’ve spent this week brainstorming and doing “sketches.” My questions for myself this week were:

  • Can I do a series about childhood sexual trauma without referencing myself?
  • What are some strategies I could use?
  • Is photography even the best medium for this?

Though I don’t necessarily think referencing my own trauma is problematic, I do want to explore different ways of talking about this issue.

I’ve been looking at artists who use liquid light to make their photographs.

I can’t for the life of me find the name of this artist.

VCU Alternative Process Class

Since I started physically messing with my prints, I’ve been wondering what else I can do to make my work more materially dynamic. If the photograph isn’t the best way to cover my topic, perhaps a combination of photography and sculpture/painting/other mediums. Christian Boltanski and Annette Messager bother use photography and found objects in their work, and maybe I can explore that route.

Reliquaire, 1990

Reliquaire, Boltanski

Dead Swiss, 1990

Dead Swiss, Boltanski

My Vows, Annette Messager

There’s a lot going on in my head right now, so many ideas, which is not a complaint by any means. It’s good to have this much inspiration.

An artist who I just started looking at Lisa Kokin. I just really like her style, and as a lover of photography and sewing, I appreciate her work.

Maternal Instinct, Lisa Kokin

Well, that’s all I think I can articulate for now. Happy shooting!